Chapter Two: Hide
A/N: Thank you to those who left a review on the first chapter, it really means a lot :) Hopefully you enjoy this one just as much.
Rachel swung the door open and noticed Ciaran had set himself up on the couch, a romantic comedy playing on the screen. "Hey."
"This the kid?" Ciaran questioned as he glanced at her, raising an eyebrow as he noticed the young girl walk through the door behind Rachel.
"My name's Leila." She introduced herself, crossing her arms over her chest as she looked around the place. It was clearly foreign to her, but Rachel hoped that it would make a welcome change from the nearly unhygienic condition of the hostel she'd been staying at. It had definitely been no place for a pregnant girl.
Ciara examined her as he flicked off the screen. "What are you, thirteen?"
Leila frowned at the comment. "Seventeen."
"Ciaran. Don't be rude." Rachel's tone was stern, and he knew that it meant she'd had enough of his sarcasm. She didn't want Leila to be scared off because of the idiotic vampire she shared her bed with. Rachel glanced over her shoulder at Leila, remembering she was yet to introduce the two of them. "This is my partner, Ciaran. He's a vampire."
"You didn't mention a vampire." Leila bit her lip, clearly nervous. Rachel didn't blame her. Werewolves were only out of control once a month, vampires sometimes couldn't control their blood loss at all.
"He's vegan...most of the time." Rachel explained as she led her into the kitchen. The kid was probably hungry and could use something to eat. Ciaran followed the two women, grinning at Leila wickedly.
"But pups are my favourite. Delicious."
Rachel shot him a glare as she noticed Leila place a hand on her stomach, shifting away from him. Although she was used to Ciaran's dry wit and dark sense of humour, he was a stranger to Leila.
"He's joking. The only non-microwaved blood he drinks is mine."
"So, how long is she with us?" Ciaran asked, steering the subject away from his diet. Rachel shrugged, putting the kettle on. She wasn't sure how long Leila would be with her, and she wasn't about to make a decision in front of her. "Even after the pup's born?"
Rachel nodded, handing Leila a glass of water and sitting her down at the table before searching around for some food. Although the girl worked, Rachel knew she didn't earn enough to provide decent nourishment for the baby she carried.
"She marked?" Ciaran questioned as he looked over at her again. He knew that if she had been marked it would make the decision a lot more difficult. When werewolves marked someone as their mate, it was for life. Yet from what Rachel had seen, the baby's father hadn't left a mark on Leila.
"No." Rachel answered as she slid a frozen pizza into the oven. She was too tired to be bothered cooking and she didn't think Leila was going to complain as long as she was being fed.
"Huh. So he didn't want her." Ciaran nodded slowly, raising an eyebrow at Rachel as she shot him another glare. Leila shifted uncomfortably, and Rach could tell she wanted to stop talking about everything that was going on, not that she could blame her. Ciaran glanced between the two women before sitting down in the chair across from Leila, leaning back happily. "So, what is it?"
"Boy." Leila announced as she rubbed her stomach again out of habit. "Did you know my mum well?"
"No." Rachel had become estranged from her own daughter, meaning she didn't know much about her granddaughter. The thought made her sad, but she also knew that they led different lives, and ones that didn't often cross paths. "I'm sorry."
"It's not like her to do this. She's one of the Valkyries." Leila raked a hand through her unkempt hair. There were dark circles under her eyes too. She looked exhausted. "You're not fond of her, are you?"
"I don't know her, and I'm not going to pretend that I do." Rachel admitted. She had never really tried either. She had been ashamed of how Anna had turned out, and she didn't want to have to feel that again.
"I'm going to find her," Leila insisted.
"Not right now you aren't." Rachel frowned, crossing her arms over her chest. She wasn't going to fight the teenager, but she had other ways of making sure that she was kept safe. She couldn't blame the girl for wanting to find her mother, but right now the most important thing was that Leila and her baby were safe and healthy.
"No, but I'm definitely not waiting until the baby's born," Leila insisted.
"Leila, it is too dangerous for you to be out there while pregnant." Rachel argued. Being pregnant made her weaker and more vulnerable. Leila leant against the bench, glancing down at the plate that Rach handed her.
"You said you don't know my mum, well then you don't really know me either."
"Look, I'm only trying to help you. You don't know this world." Rach sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of her nose. She didn't have the energy to be fighting with a teenager. She'd forgotten how stubborn they could be when she'd made the decision to take Leila in.
"What makes you think I don't?" Leila picked at the pizza in front of her. "Mum tried to keep me out of it. But it got kind of hard to believe I was fully human when I was a teenager. I know what my dad is too."
Rachel didn't even have to guess what he was. She had heard of him before – and wasn't entirely too fond of him. Leila's dad, Shiloh Ripley, sauntered in and out of her life as he pleased. He and Mars were occasional lovers, even after Leila had been born.
"Half. He's a demi. I knew about the supernatural world, everyone does because of the demis. I just didn't know I was part of it." Leila explained to her, sitting back down at the table as she picked at her food. "I'm not a child. You don't need to talk to me like I am."
"You are a child." Rachel reminded her.
Leila shovelled some of the pizza in her mouth, mumbling through mouthfuls. "Brandon didn't seem to think so."
"Brandon left you." Rachel couldn't help but be blunt, growing increasingly frustrated. How was she meant to protect this girl if Leila was insistent on going after her mum?
"So how do people in the pack know about the baby if he doesn't?" Leila asked.
"Because Doug isn't stupid. He keeps an eye on all of the pack's playthings." Rachel sat down across from her, crossing one leg over the other. She assumed that Leila at least knew of the London pack's alpha, Doug McNamara. His son Aidan was a fairly good friend of Rachel's, mature and level-headed for his age.
"So that's what you think I was to him? A plaything?" Leila sounded hurt, but Rachel didn't say anything else in regards to it. The truth was obvious in the way that Brandon had treated Leila. "I'm guessing lots of human girls have werewolf babies anyway, right?"
Rachel looked to Ciaran. She didn't want to tell Leila the truth, but at the same time she needed to. There was no point in pretending that it was a common occurrence for humans or even part-humans to have werewolf children.
"They usually die."
"So it's rare? When's the last time a mostly human girl had a werewolf baby?" Leila glanced between them, her eyes widening slightly.
"Ummm..." Ciaran glanced down at his hands, mouthing numbers as he counted on his fingers. "63 years, if we're counting that she died in childbirth. 119 if we're counting the last time a human girl survived."
"Oh." Leila bit her lip, glancing down at her empty plate to avoid looking at the other two. Rachel could tell that she was scared, and for good reason. The prospect of enduring an experience that could cost her life was a terrifying one. Yet Leila wasn't all human – she was also quarter witch and quarter fey, an unusual combination. Rachel knew Leila just had to be strong enough when the time came.
Leila had almost finished her bowl of cereal when she heard someone knocking at the door of the apartment. She paused and glanced around, but both Rachel and Ciaran were nowhere to be found. Most likely they were still in bed – Leila found she tended to be an early riser compared to others these days. Putting her spoon down, she eased herself away from the table and went to open the door. Two men stood in the doorway, their sharp features and unusually bright eyes marking them out as lowcaste fey. Leila paused, gripping the handle tightly.
"We're looking for Leila Davenport." The man with the bright violet eyes offered her a tight smile. They were dressed like regular people, so she didn't think that they were police. Although she felt uneasy at their presence, she also knew that there wasn't much she could do. She'd opened the door for them and now she'd have to deal with the consequences.
"I'm Leila," she stated.
"May we come in?" The other man asked. His hair was shaggy and fell past his ears, and his eyes were a warm shade of amber.
"What's this about?" Leila inquired, reluctant to let the fey into Rachel's apartment.
"Your mother, Marlena." The violet-eyed man glanced down at her prominent bump, raising his eyebrows. Yet his judgement didn't impact Leila as much as his words. Was it possible that the fey had information about her mum? She sucked in a deep breath, but didn't let herself get caught up in possibilities.
"I don't know if I can let you in," she said.
"It would be in your best interest," the violet-eyed man insisted, offering her another false smile. "We just have a few questions, my dear. That's all."
Leila whirled around to see Rachel marching over to the door, a thoroughly displeased expression on her face. The fey glanced at each other, and then at Rachel. Surely they knew that this was her apartment? Perhaps they'd been hoping that she wasn't in. Leila's brow furrowed into a frown, unsure why exactly Rachel had such an issue with these fey being around.
"We're here to talk to Leila, not you," the violet-eyed man sneered. The warmth he'd shown Leila was gone in an instant, replaced by something feral. With his teeth bared into a snarl, he looked like an animal ready to strike.
Rachel folded her arms. "I don't care."
"Rachel, it's about my mum," Leila insisted. Even if these were people Rachel knew, Leila wanted to know why they'd come, at least. Any mention of her mum's name was like someone throwing her a lifeline when she was drowning, something she was desperate to cling onto to stay afloat.
"They can leave," Rachel said flatly.
"Ah, lowcastes." Ciaran strode in as well. The violet-eyed man hissed like an angry beast, while his companion's jaw clenched.
"You're no better than us, leech."
Ciaran raised a cool eyebrow. "Last time I checked, no one wiped out my leadership. Just saying."
The casual reference to the slaughter of the court fey caused tension so thick Leila felt like she might choke on it. It was still a very sore spot for the lowcaste fey, despite the fact that it had happened hundreds of years ago. Both men tensed, the violet-eyed one stepping forward with his hands balled into fists. Leila took a step back from the door, despite knowing that his fury wasn't directed at her. Rachel grabbed the front of his coat and slammed him against the wall.
"Careful," he snapped. "You don't intimidate us, witch."
"Get. Out." Rachel ground out through her teeth.
The violet-eyed man shoved her away, glancing at Leila. "If you decide you want to talk, it won't be hard to find us."
Looking to his companion and nodding curtly, he strode out of the apartment. Leila bit her lip as she heard the familiar 'ping' of the elevator. She was disappointed that although her mum's name had come up in the conversation, she hadn't found out anything more. The fey hadn't mentioned why they wanted to speak about Mars – whether they wanted to help find her, or already knew where she was. Once Rachel shut the door, Leila spun around to face her.
"What was that?"
"Do not go near them," Rachel warned.
"They had information on my mum!" Leila exclaimed. She wasn't one to raise her voice, especially to the estranged great-grandmother who'd taken her in, but she was beyond frustrated that a potential development had been snatched away from her.
"They're lying to you," Rachel insisted.
Leila shook her head vehemently. "Fey can't lie."
"Nope, but they're very good at twisting the truth," Ciaran said. She couldn't disagree with that – if people were physically unable to lie, she imagined they'd become rather good at figuring out ways to avoid absolute transparency in their words.
"Then why would they want to talk to me?" Leila demanded.
"To use you against her," Rachel said. "It's what they do."
It sounded to Leila like Rachel didn't like fey, and she suspected it was because the witches and the fey were, out of all the supernatural races, the most tense. There was bad blood between the two.
"Wow, that's species stereotyping," she muttered.
"Now they know you're pregnant." Ciaran gave her a mocking thumbs-up. "Nice job."
Leila scowled. "I can't exactly hide it."
"Just try to avoid leaving the house," Rachel said, heading into the kitchen and clearing up Leila's abandoned cereal bowl. Leila stared hard at her back, wishing she'd had the chance to talk to the fey before Rachel had intervened.
"For how long?"
"Until the kid is born." Rachel turned away from the sink. "Or take one of us with you."
Leila heaved a sigh. She understood that she was being protected, but she also despised it. She didn't want to sit around and wait another few months until she had her son. She wanted to find her mum sooner rather than later. Although she doubted that Mars was dead, there were still so many questions that needed answering. Where was Mars? More importantly, what had caused her to disappear?
"You ever stop eating?" Ciaran watched as Leila searched through the kitchen cupboards. Even though it was almost time for dinner, it was clear that the pregnant teenager couldn't wait for the meal. The microwave hummed softly behind him and he glanced at the blood bag in there.
"Do you?" Rachel countered from where she stood chopping vegetables for dinner. It was weird for her to be cooking, as Ciaran didn't eat regular food, but with Leila in the house she had more reason to cook.
"Of course I do." Ciaran winked at her, ignoring her scoffing at him as he watched as Leila began eat some cheddar cheese. "Cheese is your craving?"
"It's cute." Rachel defended, moving towards the door when she heard knocking. Both she and Ciaran knew who their guest was, yet Leila remained clueless. The teenager's eyes widened.
"The lowcastes?" Leila questioned, and Ciaran could see the tension in her shoulders at the thought of them.
"Nah." Ciaran shook his head, wrinkling his nose as he watched her sit down on the couch, still nibbling on the cheese. "Disgusting."
"Just like you, Ciaran." Leila looked up at the sound of the unfamiliar male voice. The person who followed Rachel into the lounge room was a tall young man in his early twenties with messy black hair and piercing blue eyes.
"Aidan. What're you doing here?" Ciaran drawled, glancing at Rachel as she moved into the room behind Aidan. He hoped that her plan would work, and that the youths in the room would become good friends. If that happened, there was the chance that Leila would be accepted into the pack, where she would be protected by more than just one witch and one vampire.
"I was invited." Aidan rolled his eyes, knowing that Ciaran would've known he was coming over. Rachel wasn't the type to not inform him of when the werewolves were coming around, although he was usually working when they did. "Is this her?"
Rachel nodded, crossing her arms over her chest. "Yes."
"What?" Leila glanced between the two of them and it was clear that she was confused about everything that was going on. "You told him about me?"
"This is Aidan." Rachel said, watching as the werewolf smiled at her. He was an intimidating person due to his big build, but he also had a smile that made people want to trust him. Aidan could either be terrifying or friendly, and in this instance, he was the latter.
"I'm the beta of Brandon's pack." Aidan sat down across from her on one of the arm chairs, reclining back into it. "I already knew about you."
Leila nodded slowly. "What did Brandon say about me?"
"Nothing much." Aidan shrugged, Rachel noting Leila's pained expression. She felt sorry for her, but she also knew there wasn't much even Aidan could do in terms of her relationship with Brandon. "Sorry."
"Leila, take your cheese so the grown-ups can talk." Ciaran cut in, knowing that Rachel had invited Aidan to their place so they could discuss what was going to be done with Leila once she had the baby.
Aidan shook his head, glancing over at Ciaran. If they were going to be talking about her, they may as well keep her informed of what was going on. "She can stay."
Leila frowned. "Why, what's being discussed?"
"I'm guessing you know about the pup." Ciaran cut straight to the point with Aidan, and Leila shot him a glare that, if he wasn't already a dead man, would've definitely killed him.
"Stop calling him 'the pup'." She snapped at him. She hated that term. Perhaps it was cute to some, but the way Ciaran almost spat it made it sound derogatory and she didn't appreciate that. Ciaran just rolled his eyes at her, which only seemed to make the scowl on her face deepen.
"So, did Aidan come around to meet Leila or the pup?"
"Both." Aidan shrugged. He was the next in line to be the alpha of his pack, so it was his duty to look over all of the pack's women and make sure they were safe, especially in Leila's case, with her half-human heritage and with a child on the way. Pups were nothing new, but ones born of non-werewolf mothers were rare.
"I want to talk to Brandon about him." Leila murmured softly.
Aidan sighed heavily, glancing over at her as he got to his feet. "He won't want the kid."
"I want to talk to him." Leila insisted. It was clear wasn't going to be told no in a situation like this. Rachel couldn't help but feel another surge of pity for the girl, knowing Brandon would likely find it difficult to accept the consequences of their relationship.
Aidan raked a hand through his hair, obviously frustrated with her defiance. Rachel caught his eye, realising they both knew there was no point in arguing with her. She had her mind set on it, and although she would be met with disappointment, she needed to find that out herself.
"I can take her," Aidan stated, which relieved Rachel as she hadn't really been keen on a trip to see her great-granddaughter's ex-boyfriend. "She'll be safe with me."
Leila had been to Brandon Carter's place a few times before. As a pack orphan, abandoned by his parents when he'd been a small child, he'd been adopted by the alpha and lived there along with others like him. It had been an odd concept to Leila at the time, that the alpha would so readily take him in, but that was before she'd come to grasp the pack mentality. Werewolves looked out for each other, provided for each other. Even though Brandon's parents left him, the alpha had always ensured he had a place.
Aidan had let her see Brandon alone, quick to start socialising with a bunch of other werewolves his age, talking and laughing in the games room. Leila didn't see Brandon among them, so she headed to his room, lightly tapping on the door. She was surprised to see that he was reading, an activity that she didn't usually associate with him. He frowned when he noticed her.
His hair had grown out in the past few months, but other than that, he looked just the same as when they'd parted ways. He was hot in a bad-boy way, and that was probably what had attracted Leila to him. Mousy brown hair, bright hazel eyes and a penchant for leather and boots. She'd thought he was so cool, with his motorbike and his occasional cigarettes and the fact that he'd gotten her into some awesome clubs. Now she just saw him as juvenile.
"Brandon." She crossed over and wrapped her arms around him, hugging him tight. She knew it was awkward to be so affectionate with her ex-boyfriend, but he also happened to be the father of her baby. He looked down at the swell of her stomach, shock registering in his eyes.
"That's what I came to tell you about," she insisted. Although she hadn't known about the pregnancy until after they'd broken up, she wanted to give Brandon the chance to be involved in their child's life, if he wanted to be. The baby would be a werewolf like his father, after all.
"You should get rid of it," Brandon said curtly.
"No." Leila frowned, placing a hand on her bump. "I want to keep him. You don't have to have anything to do with him, but he's your son too."
"I guess." Brandon shrugged. He kept looking at her bump like it was a time bomb about to go off. Leila realised she had been wrong to come here, wrong to hope that Brandon might care about his unborn child. They were both teenagers. A baby wasn't part of the plan. While Leila might have accepted it and wanted to raise the child as best she could, it was clear that Brandon viewed this new development with dread.
"I know this isn't what you wanted," Leila murmured.
"No, it isn't." Brandon folded his arms over his chest, his gaze sharp enough to feel like it was cutting her. "I don't want him, Leila."
She played with her hands, avoiding looking at him. She hadn't expected them to get back together and play happy couples for the sake of the baby, but she'd hoped that Brandon might have taken more of an interest in his own child. After all, he'd been abandoned by his own parents. Wouldn't he want his son avoiding the same kind of fate? She swallowed the lump in her throat and blinked away tears.
"Brandon, I just thought…that maybe we could do this."
"We broke up," he reminded her coolly.
Leila glared at him, desperately trying to suppress tears. Brandon had dumped her. She'd thought she was in love with him. Maybe she had been. But he'd broken her heart and made out their relationship was nothing more than a fun time. Now that fun time had unintended consequences. Leila traced her fingers over her bump and made a silent promise to her baby: that regardless of his father's resentment toward him, he would grow up loved and cherished.
"You should go." Brandon moved over to the door, opening it wider. He didn't want her here. He didn't want her in his life. Leila had naively thought maybe they could at least be friends, but Brandon just wanted to avoid her – and now, this situation – entirely. Shooting him a heated glare, Leila marched from the room.
It was only when Brandon had closed the door behind her that Leila leaned against the wall, making sure no one else was in the corridor before she pressed her face into her hands. She let the tears leak through her fingers. She had really hoped she could work something out with her ex, but it seemed like she'd been living in a fantasy. Babies didn't magically fix things. She'd been a fool to think otherwise.
Ciaran stood in the doorway of the bathroom, wrinkling his nose at the smell of bleach. Cleaning the shower and toilet was the one thing he blatantly refused to do in the house. He blamed it on the bleach, which was the truth, but Rachel was content in calling him lazy. He raked his eyes over her as she bent down to scrub at the grout, grinning to himself at the nice view he was getting. The burning smell in his nostrils was worth it at this point in time.
"So, a little lamb among the wolves, huh?" Ciaran was surprised that Rachel had allowed Leila to go and visit her baby's father. Rachel sighed heavily, grabbing a bowl of water and washing the bleach off of the inside tiles. She straightened up, stepping out of the shower and drying off her hands and feet.
"I don't like the idea, but I trust Aidan."
He raised an eyebrow at her, crossing his arms over his chest. He knew there would've been only one reason as to why she let Leila go off with Aidan, to a house full of werewolves. Rachel wanted Leila to find out the hard way that Brandon wasn't going to be accepting of the baby.
"You're worried about her."
"I am." She nodded, brushing past him and making her way to the kitchen. He could tell that was in for a clean as well. It was what she did when she was stressed. She would clean to keep her mind off of things.
"Why?" He followed her into the kitchen, grabbing himself a beer from the fridge.
"Because she is just a kid and he won't want the baby." She explained, putting the kettle on and grabbing herself a mug. Ciaran watched her closely, offering her a small smile.
"She seems tougher than she looks." He assured her. They both knew the possibility of the birth killing her, and Ciaran knew that would be playing on Rachel's mind often. "I think we should be more worried about the lowcastes sniffing around."
"I don't know what we can do about them." She sighed heavily, walking over and wrapping her arms around him. Ciaran rubbed her back in a comforting manner. He hadn't heard anything about them circulating around the streets. That made him worry even more about what they were up to.
"Neither do I." He admitted, kissing the top of her head and burying his face in her hair. Her scent never ceased to amaze him, and it was no doubt to do with her blood. She always smelt sweet, with a subtle spice. He always thought it matched her personality. "The kid will be fine."
"I hope so." She nodded, kissing his cheek. "I just don't want the fey snooping around.'
"Do we have something to hide?" He grinned at her. The fey would have no real reason to continue snooping around if they couldn't find anything worth the effort. Although Ciaran had to question their interest in Leila. The fey hadn't cared until the girl had come to live with them. They wanted something from her – which suggested that they did indeed have something to hide.