Chapter 5

Sebastian spoke with my grandmother alone for about ten minutes. They asked me to leave the room for the short moment, so I wandered the halls of the gigantic house. My mind cannot help but continue to drift to their conversation, though. What are they talking about and why can I not hear it? I feel like a punished child, and my parents have yet to come up with the punishment.

I begin to hear footsteps behind me as I walk down a random hallway, and when I turn to see what is causing the sounds, I spot the dog from earlier, Bruiser. A smile spreads across my face from ear to ear, and I hurry to the chubby pup. He seems to be comfortable with me as my hand lightly strokes his smooth back. Bruiser rolls over so I will rub his tummy, and I let out a small laugh.

"Evangeline!" Someone calls for me, and I stand up straight.

"I'm over here," I call back and slowly make my way towards the beginning of the long, dimly lit hallway.

Ryker appears around the corner and motions for me to follow him. I pick up my pace until he is right in front of me. "Your grandmother has left, and the Alpha wants to see you in his office," he informs me briefly.

"Wait, she left, but I didn't get to say goodbye." I peer up at Ryker with a mask of disappointment on my face.

"The Alpha will explain."

I do as I am told and follow behind Ryker to the Alphas office, having to play the game. When we arrive, Ryker pushes one of the doors open and lets me in. Sebastian is sitting at his desk, shuffling through papers.

"Why did she leave?" I ask him, and he glances up at me for a second before peering back down.

"She will be back tomorrow so you can talk to her then."

I nod slightly before sitting in one of the two leather seats in front of the desk. I sit silently for about two minutes before I pipe up again. "Where is everyone?"

"They're working." This time Sebastian does not look up at me but keeps writing on one of the many papers.

"What do they do?"

"What I tell them."

I observe him and take in his features while he is distracted. Slowly, I have grown an urge to look at Sebastian, as he is just so handsome. Since we are bound to be together in a romantic way, I want to be the best person I can be for him—I want to find out how my mate works, how he functions. I want to know if he desires me as much as I secretly do for him.

"How do packs work?" I question him, randomly.

Sebastian stops, and his gaze lands on me. "Every pack has an Alpha, which is the position I hold. Then there is a second in command, who is called the Beta, which is the position Andrew holds, and lastly the third in command is Ryker. We take care of the pack, as we are the leadership, but all answers to me. When the Alpha finds his mate, she becomes the Luna, the Alphas equal." A light blush has started to show on my cheeks, and I try to hide it from him. "It works as a government. My pack, the Tate Pack, has our land, guards to protect it and enforce rules, and the pack members."

Sebastian stands up from his chair and comes over to me before holding out his hand. I take it and do not ask any questions as he leads me out of the room. His touch spreads a soothing sensation over my body, making me relaxed, clearing my head of troubling thoughts. My wolf never wants him to let go.

When we reach the top of the stairs, I become too curious. "Where are we going?"

"To bed."

I must have lost track of time, and when I look out one of the windows, it is dark outside and the moon is high in the sky. "Where will I be sleeping?" I glance back at him from the window.

He leans down to my ear. "With me."

A shiver runs down my spine from his warm breath on the side of my cheek. I have never slept with anyone but myself, in my own bed. How do you sleep with someone else? And I do not mean sexually. Admittedly, it is not as simple as just laying in the same bed and trying to drift off. I bite my lip and let out a small, shaky breath, never having felt so nervous.

I almost unnoticeably nod my head and turn to him, but he does not say anything else and continues to walk to his room. As we near a familiar pair of doors, my heart rate picks up. What should I be expecting?

What is he expecting from me?

Moonlight drips through the windows lined along the hallway creating a dull striped pattern on the floor. Only natural light leads the way to the gates of hell in front of me, or that is at least what the burning sensation in my chest would like to believe. My lungs clench inside of me as if the air pushing up against my body is just not enough to quench their thirst. Sebastian walks in front, guiding me towards the nest of fear, anxiety, and surprise. If I could manage to think logically at this moment, I would be expecting rather reasonable things to be behind the doors, but since the irrational side of my mind has taken over, nothing can be so ordinary.

A spell has been cast over me, over my mind, and it is called the mate bond. Maybe if we were not mates, I would be at home with grandma, or maybe I would be dead like the rogue they first labeled me as. My body is physically exhausted, beaten up by the constant rush of this never-ending day. I never thought finding my mate would cause me to act mindlessly and frantically as if one more second of my new reality will result in my head bursting.

I feel as if someone else has taken over my body, they have buttoned me down, climbed in, and buttoned me right back up. Why must I fight for control over my own mind? How can something so precious as the Mate bond hypnotize me and filter all the negative parts of my mate out of mind, as if I have never heard of them in the first place? I wish there were someone to put an end to all these prodding questions jumbled in my head. I thought there was, but from our encounter in the restroom, I am finding it hard to trust her words.

Sebastian pushes one of the doors open and leads me into the familiar room, the room where I collected myself. Everything is in the exact place as earlier except for the new stack of clothing sitting neatly at the end of the bed. "Marina brought you clothes to sleep in."

I nod.

The air begins to grow denser as my lungs greedily take it in. "I... I don't think I can sleep here," I say to him.

Sebastian brings me to a spare bedroom which takes a vast amount of weight off my shoulders, though before he disappears down the hallway, he looks back at me from the doorway. "Sleep, if you can manage to," he says before returning to his bedroom.

Confused by his words, I place the sleepwear on the bed and take the extra bandaging from the top of the pile. Marina must have remembered what the doctor said.

The door on the left wall takes me into a bathroom, and I glance in the mirror as I attempt to remove the old bandages. After tossing the used wrappings in the garbage and replacing them with fresh ones, I change out of the borrowed clothes into a new pair. When I get back to the house, I will have to grab all my own clothes and thank whoever Fiona is. Hopefully, she does not mind sharing her wardrobe.

Why are we in a separate room? My wolf asks.

Because he is a stranger.

But you do not feel that way.

I ignore her and climb into the foreign sheets.

Finally, I realize why Sebastian said what he did because no matter what I do, one factor stays glued in my mind; the fact that my mate is sleeping in the bedroom beside me and I cannot get to him. Obviously, I can physically walk over to him, but that is not the issue. I cannot simply barge in while he is sleeping and expect him to solve my problem. There is always the solution of sleeping in the same bed, together, but there is no way that is happening. I will not go back on my decision now. Sure he has kissed my face, but sleeping in the same bed is entirely different.

Rolling over, I groan for the thousandth time. All I can picture is his big arms holding me close, protecting me. Imagining the warm, intimate sensation of his breaths fanning the back of my neck, making me want to scream. The animal inside wants his touch, and it wants it now. Groaning again, I shove my pillow in my face, hiding my deep blush from the world.

I did not think about these things before—before him.

A part of me hopes he is struggling too, even though that is outright selfish and egotistical of me. Yet, this part of me wants his thoughts to be singular during times like these.

Kicking the covers off my restless body, I become frustrated. I just want to sleep, and without him, sleeping has become a chore.

* * *

Henry and I walk side by side in the direction of the stream—according to him—as my sense of direction is lost as of now. The two of us have not had a proper introduction, and I want to utilize this time to do so. He seems like an exciting person, easygoing and enjoyable to be around—his lovely brown eyes give me hints of fulfillment. Henry, from the looks of him, comes across as someone who is at peace with their life currently, but I know everyone has hurdles to jump over.

"Henry, if you and Sebastian are brothers, how come he is Alpha and you aren't?" I ask, curious to learn more about pack leadership and his views.

He glances at me then looks back to the forest scenery surrounding us, engulfing us. The sounds that I have grown accustomed to, and missed dearly, caress me in their arms, gently rocking me back and forth.

"He is older, so he got the position."

"Did you want it—to be Alpha?"

He shrugs. "When I was younger, the fact that Sebastian was going to be Alpha seemed unfair, but now I've realized that I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it."

"Why's that?"

Henry glances at me again, and he lets out a short sigh, needing an extra second to piece together an answer. "Sebastian, he needs it—to be Alpha. I only wanted it."

Leaves crunch under our feet, the thin, dead looking nothings that have fallen all the way down from the branch they once so desperately clasped to. I watch my feet as they hover over the next bunch and ruthlessly stomp down on them, loving the muffled grinding sounds.

"You have always lived so close to our borders," he starts, "sounds a little dangerous."

"As odd as it sounds, I never knew there was a pack so close by, and I'm sure my grandmother didn't either. She's not a big fan of packs."

"Why's that?"

"Well, she's always been independent, her and my grandfather before he passed. I don't know—maybe she didn't want to follow the rules, I haven't asked her about anything specific," I explain. "For as long as I can remember she's lived out here, though my mother never talked about her much."

Henry nods briefly. "You've never had any problems with rogues?"

"Not that I know of, but then again, I just learned what a rogue is."

"It is someone who does not belong to a pack, a werewolf who follows their own rules. You know," he grabs my attention as it starts to stray from the sounds of rustling leaves, "technically you and your grandmother are rogues."

"Is that a bad thing? Because everyone at your pack sure makes it sound like it—I mean, two of them were about to be killed."

"You aren't a threat. I'm sure about that. Sebastian told me about what you did, and those rogues, those were not good ones."

My brows furrow together as I try to understand what he is saying. The two men that I pretended to risk my life for were not good people?

"What do you mean? How do you know?"

"Those two guys have been killing our guards around the borders. I thought Sebastian would have told you, but now that I think of it, if I were him, I wouldn't want you to worry about things like that. I would want you to feel safe."

The sounds of trickling water begin to creep towards me, and I immediately know we are close. It is hard to be excited after finding out the men are killers, then again, I have met a few of those already. One makes me continually remind myself that he has indeed killed people, but I cannot help but push that detail to the back of my mind.

"The girl," I look up at him. "The girl from my cell, has she been freed?"

Henry's face molds into something regretful. "I don't know. I went in there for you, but I didn't see any girls."

"So she's just gone?"

"Well, I don't wanna get you down since you didn't know about the two men, but if she died someone would have removed her body. There are other possibilities though. Maybe she was released before I could get to her."

My shoulders slowly fall, and my entire body hunches forward. As much as I want to believe the girl was released, the tone of Henry's voice tells me it was a slim chance.

Henry notices my displeasure and nudges me lightly. "Is that the house? I'm assuming it is."

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