Animal Lover Ch. 07byKemMyst©
His voice is breathless. "The Alphas... They're coming."
"OK. Um. Show no fear. Um.. They may sniff you."
"I'm not dressed..."
"Too late." They hear a vehicle pull into the driveway. "Don't lie."
He pulls her with him to the door. She stumbles.
He opens the door to the knock. A couple stand in the doorway, the woman holding a bag. They hold themselves with an air of importance. Emmett stands stiffly. "Emmett."
"Alpha Wyeth. Madam Alpha." He bows his head to each of them.
"And who is this?" The woman's voice is on the low end of the register. She was imposing, although smaller than Lyssa, with red hair and an almost feral smile.
Emmett turns partway towards her. "This is Lyssa Baker. Lyssa, this is Randall and Ariel Wyeth."
"May we come in?"
They move to the side to admit the Alpha pair. Emmett is gripping her hand tightly. Ariel turns to her mate. "We appear to have interrupted breakfast, husband."
Lyssa smoothes her hair with her free hand. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Thank you, we've already eaten. Emmett." She offers the bag to him.
"Thank you. There was no need for you to bring this." He finally releases her hand, drops the towel, and, rummaging through the bag, pulls on a pair of jeans and a dark t-shirt.
As he comes upright he sees Ariel has stepped behind Lyssa, standing close and inhaling. Lyssa stood still, her eyes darting, heartbeat starting to race.
"So this is the female who's kept you away from us." She cocks her head as if listening when she comes to stand before Lyssa again. "Are you frightened of us?"
He had told her not to lie. "Yes."
The male finally rumbles. "A good instinct. Instincts should be trusted."
Her eyes flick to the male who was looking pointedly at Emmett.
The female continued to examine her. "And what has Emmett told you of us?"
She had real trouble looking the woman in the eye, but her eyes flicked to hers at the question. Lyssa's fear ratcheted up. "Not much. That he is a werewolf. That he is Beta. That you are annoyed with him." Emmett's hand finds hers again. Randall chuckles.
"He has been neglecting his duties." Ariel replies. She reaches up, she was 3 or 4 inches shorter, moves the collar of Lyssa's bathrobe aside and sniffs her neck.
"He was hurt."
That startles her. She smiles, looks at Emmett, then Randall. "We should allow them to finish their meal."
After a few more moments, Randall nods to Emmett and smiles down at his mate. "We expect you home soon, Emmett. There are things we need to attend to."
"Of course, sir."
The large, dark haired male briefly kisses his mate and takes her hand.
"It was nice to meet you, Lyssa."
"Uh, you, too." Ariel turns and flashes her another brief, feral smile. They then leave the house. Lyssa watches a black Lincoln Navigator pull out of her drive.
She pulls out of Emmett's grasp and turns to him as he stumbles slightly, as if his legs won't hold him.
"What the hell was that?"
"A test. Did I pass?"
"WHAT?! What the hell have you gotten me into?"
"I was pretty sure it would be OK."
"Pretty sure. PRETTY SURE? Godammit, Emmett, I didn't ask for any of this. And you didn't say anything."
"Lyssa, please calm down. I explained what was going on to Randall."
He winces. "Please stop shouting. I'm sorry. I didn't expect them to come. I thought I'd have more time to prepare you."
"Prepare me for what?"
He pulls her into an embrace and says quietly. "I think you know."
She struggles, pushing against his chest and looks up at him. "No. NO. I don't know anything about you. What were you gonna do? Throw me over your shoulder and haul me off to your den?"
He takes her shoulders. "We don't ..." A sigh. "That's not how it works."
"And why me? What are you doing? Slumming? Some time with the humans for a change of pace? Something to tell the other guys over a beer? Do you have a wife?"
He sighs again, heavily. "Why don't we sit down? I will answer all your questions." He pulls her to the couch and into his lap. She pulls away and stands, facing him, hands on her hips.
He looks up at her, the fire in her eyes, the fear, the indignation. She was wonderful. But, if he didn't win her over, she was dead.
Randall looked over at his mate, her dark auburn hair blowing lightly from the open window. "So, mate, what are your thoughts?"
"I can understand what he sees in her. There is strength there and a softness I've noticed he's drawn to. She's healthy."
"Has he mated with her?"
"No. He's much too cautious for that. She carries no mark. But they have been intimate."
"Empathy, helpfulness. I do not think she will weaken the bloodlines. While I wish he had found a mate within the pack, I approve of his choice. Now, husband, what did you learn from him?"
"He has been watching her for some time."
"Alaric Macey took notice, and challenged him. His wounds gave him reason to approach her. She treated him, fed him, invited him in."
"And, her male?"
"Got drunk, treated her badly, has attacked her twice and hit him with a crowbar. The authorities are aware."
"Was it he who trespassed on the Ross range?"
"Yes. She took him there to get away from the house and the other male."
"He lives here?"
"No. But he's showing a fierce sense of possession." His hand moves over and caresses her thigh.
"I believe we may have made matters more difficult for him."
"As we both know, husband, he can be most persuasive."
He looks up at her. He speaks calmly, "Lyssa, sweetheart..."
"Don't call me that!"
He sighs, and starts again. "I have no mate; I've been looking for mine. As I was out hunting one might, I saw you."
"Hunting? You've been running around here at night? Or during the day?"
"The wolf side of us loves the hunt, the chase, catching our prey."
"Is that what I am? Something to chase?"
"Yes. And no. I saw you. Saw your passion, saw your fire. And I wanted to know you. The difficulty was in trying to find a way to introduce myself."
"So, you've been stalking me?"
He thinks briefly. "I've been watching, getting to know you, finding out how much I wanted you."
"Do I have any say in this?"
"Of course." He rises and takes her hands, she tries to pull away but he holds her hands tightly.
"Let. Me. Go."
"Lyssa, I haven't hurt you. I haven't forced you into anything. I've been trying to give you time to accept who and what I am. To give you time to decide."
She stares at him.
"Do I frighten you?"
She looks into those chocolate brown eyes and breathes, the drops her eyes, almost in defeat. "No. I feel safe with you."
She looks at him some more. "What do you really want with me?"
He exhales. "I'd like you to be my mate."
She stands, and stares at him. And looks at him some more. "And if I don't want to be?"
Emmett closes his eyes.
He stands there long enough, eyes closed, not speaking, that she gets concerned.
"OK. What's wrong?"
He drops back onto the couch. "Emmett?"
"This isn't what I wanted to happen.", he mumbles to himself.
She sits beside him. "Emmett?"
He exhales and looks at her. "I wanted to do this differently." Another exhale.
"Werewolves are all around you. You've seen them." She gives him a doubting look. "The couple in the park yesterday."
"How do you know that?"
"I could smell them and they smelled me. I was trespassing on their range."
"The packs each have a territory. I was on theirs without permission."
"But, I took you there.."
"As I told Randall." She shoots him another questioning look. "Given the circumstances, I am likely to be forgiven but I will have to make reparations for my hunting."
"You ate a rabbit?" He nods. "Oh, yuck. They were werewolves?" He nods again. "But they looked so..."
"Normal?" She nods, seeming very interested in what he's saying.
"But, how do you live?"
He smiles. "Have you heard of Wyeth Imports?" She shakes her head. "You might Google it."
"The family deals in fine art. That's where the majority of the money comes from that sustains the pack. The other packs work in other industries."
"But you aren't a Wyeth. You said your name is Forester."
"The pack is comprised of several families. The Wyeth Alphas lead the pack."
"Some of our members are lawyers, accountants, teachers. Others work outside the den."
"So, there are a lot of you."
"And you just, walk around.."
He smiles a little. "Yes."
"And, nobody know about you?"
"What do you think would happen if everyone knew about us?" He looks at her, she drops her eyes.
"What about vampires?"
Her eyes widen. "No?" He shakes his head. "Bigfoot?" He laughs. "Aliens?" He looks thoughtful.
"Not that I'm aware of. But, there are other werefolk."
"Weretigers in Asia, werejaguars in South America, werelions and European werewolves."
"We're not sure, but there are theories. Most involve a holy man and blood ritual."
"Unfortunately, no. While we heal more quickly and can survive wounds that would kill humans we can still be killed by normal bullets."
"Do you eat people?"
Again, he laughs. "Not unless you count what happened in the shower."
She turns crimson. He pulls her against him.
"So, you're not invincible?"
"Then Ronnie could really hurt you."
"So could you."
"I'd never..." He looks at her, "Oh."
He slides an arm around her. "I've looked for you for a very long time."
She squeaks. "Me?"
"My mate. And, now that I've found you, I can't let you go."
She's snuggled against him until that statement. She pushes away now. "Possessive much? God, you're as bad as Ronnie."
"I won't hurt you. Our pack does not allow abuse of females." She looks at him. "Do you have a reason to stay here?"
"You could do something similar for the pack, if you truly enjoy it. We do, of course, interact with humans. It is possible you could keep it."
"Who you haven't seen in months. You told me you've really only seen his friends in the past few months."
"And that didn't come first because they're gone."
"How do you know?"
"It's rather unsettling the amount of information that can be turned up with a computer and some money."
"Lyssa Marie Baker. Born December 12, 1982." He pulls her close again. "Your parents, brother, and sister were killed when a truck's brakes failed. You were home sick at the time." She sniffles a little. "Your father's family didn't seem to want much to do with you. You stayed with your mother's sister until you graduated high school. Associates degree.
Started work when you were 20. Between living frugally and some small inheritance you bought this house. You've done well for yourself, very well, Isn't it time to let someone else take some of the burden?"
"I do OK by myself."
"By yourself, sweetheart, it that the way you want it? With me you can be part of a large family. Don't you miss that?"
Sniffling again. "Yes."
"So. I'll ask you again. What's keeping you here?"
A sigh. "My house."
"I can give you everything you need, and much of what you want."
"But, it's mine."
There he was stuck. So much had been taken away from her. She would hold tightly to what was hers. Her house was her security blanket.
He rests his chin on the top of her head. "What are your plans for your life?"
She opens her mouth, closes it, opens it again "Get married, have a couple of kids."
"I can give you that. Anything else?"
"I don't know, I never really thought about it."
He turns to her and takes her face in his hands.
"What you want, I think, is safety and security, as well as someone to love you, that you can love back. Did you love Ronnie?"
She breathes, and thinks. "No."
"The pack is stable. The property and the company have been in the family for almost 200 years. It would take something truly catastrophic for everything to fail. We have ample resources. We would be safe and secure there."
"I could pay off the house so that you could keep it."
She pulls his hands away. "I don't want anybody else paying for my house."
He responds by taking her hands. "Other arrangements, compromises, could be made."
"You want to assert your independence. You've been alone for too long. You're also afraid of what will change."
"What would happen?"
He smiles, she was at least, opening up to the possibility. She had, also, no idea of how much he was trying to give her to so she would say she'd come.
"I would bring you to the den, to be introduced to the pack."
"Den? Like a cave?"
"No." He chuckles. "That's just what we call the compound we live in. I have space in the house. There are also smaller units around it."
"How big is this place?"
"Big enough. After the introduction and a couple of days comes the decision."
"What, exactly, is the decision?"
"To accept and be accepted into the pack."
"So, I can say no?"
"And I can go back to my life?"
He looks down and doesn't answer. "Emmett? Tell me."
"Your life can never be the same, now that you know about us."
Her voice gets small. "I won't tell anybody."
"We can't risk exposure."
She jumps up and faces him, clenching her fists. "What did you get me into? I didn't ask for this!"
"I'd like to ask you one favor." She looks at him, the look showing she was pissed, and unlikely to consider his request. "Would you come to the den with me? See who we are?"
He watches her contemplate the request, knowing it would bring her deeper, and that it would be more difficult to leave. His Alphas had made this harder by coming to the house. Since they knew she knew what they were, they would demand her presence, to assure their secret. He didn't have much time to convince her and really needed her to come of her own volition.
He wishes he could read her mind, right now.
Breakfast forgotten, she paces the room, chewing on her thumb.
Her life had been turned upside down in a few hours. What did she have as far as choices now?
Her life could 'never be the same'. What did that mean?
She was feeling trapped now. She glanced at Emmett. He looked very vulnerable right now. She chewed on her lower lip. He was incredible and, under normal circumstances, she'd be more than willing to see more of him.
This sounded, well, final.
He wanted her to be his, his mate. There seemed to be no doubt in his mind.
How did he know?
She knew nothing about him, except that he made her feel safe. Well, among other things.
Suddenly, it all comes clear to her. She really didn't have a choice at all.
Her eyes went wide and her pupils dilated as she looked at him.
His heart dropped. She would reject him. She would likely be dead before the week was out.
He bows his head and the words come out of both of their mouths as the same time.
"I'm sorry, Lyssa."
"They'll kill me, won't they?"
He can feel moisture rising in his eyes as he raises them again to look at her. "I didn't want this. I wanted more time to win you over. If they hadn't come..."
"But, I can't just walk around knowing what I know, right?"
"Why did you let me think I had a choice at all?"
"I thought... Sweetheart, I hoped, that you might come with me. That you might find me pleasing."
She sees the pain on his face and she takes an involuntary step toward him. She stops herself from getting closer. "Why did you do this to me?"
"Because I love you."
Her mouth drops open. He meant it.
But, it hadn't even been three days.
How was she supposed to respond to this? Her thoughts were racing. What could she do?
"I'd never be able to get away, could I?"
Emmett shakes his head. "They have your scent."
"I won't tell anyone."
"We can't take the chance."
"I don't want to die."
She still stood, but her breathing and heart showed her fear.
His chest was tight, it almost hurt to breath. He considers a traitorous thought.
He stands, and takes her shoulders. She is rigid under his hands. "I could try to get us away."
"Us? Where? Would it work? What would they do?"
He sits, heavily, the couch complaining under his weight. She is pulled into his lap. He cradles her against his chest. "They'd report our flight to the other packs. We'd both be hunted."
"Both? They'd kill you, if they caught us?"
"When they caught us, yes, we'd both die."
"Why would you do that?"
"I take responsibility for the trouble I've caused you."
She takes a few deep breaths. "OK, then..."
So, they'd kill him, too, for helping her. She found that it bothered her to think he'd be hurt.
What was happening to her?
"OK, then, let's go to the den."
She was silent and rigid beside him as he drove her car to the den.
He was torn. She was coming to the den with him. It was what he wanted. But it was nothing like he had pictured. He had thought it would be a happy trip. It was everything but.
She was defeated, simply accepting her fate.
She didn't even look up as they pulled into the gates and approached the house. He parked the car and turned to her. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. He reaches for her, "Oh, Lyssa...."
She shrieks at him. "Don't touch me!"
His head whips around as his Alpha's voice reaches into his mind. [Emmett? Welcome home, my friend.]
A growl rumbles in his chest as he stares at the house. [Damn you, Randall. You've cost me my mate!]
[You haven't brought her to us?]
[She's here, Randall. But she isn't.]
[I'm sending Ariel and Joanna.]
He sits, eyes closed, and waits for the two women to collect her. He heard her gasp at the snuffling around the car. Some of the others had come to check them out. The noises ceased abruptly as two sets of footsteps approached.
A rap on the car window startles them both and the door opens on her side. "Hello again, Lyssa. This is my daughter, Joanna. Shall we go up to the house?"
Showing little interest in anything at all, Lyssa exits the car.
Joanna looks at the tears and her voice takes on a disapproving tone. "Emmett, you didn't hurt her, did you?"
Lyssa shakes her head and the women lead her into the house.
Emmett's chest heaves in anger as he watches her disappear into the huge house. He got out of the car, removed his clothing, and took off at a run, shifting to wolf as he did so.
In fairly short order he's joined by Erich and Roland.
[What's wrong, Em?]
He can't stop the images that smash into their brains. Curling up with her on the bed. Her kicking him in the balls. Humming as she prepared a meal. Her fingers scratching through his coat. Coming to him in the shower. Then, the Alphas' arrival. Ariel appraising her. The discussion following their departure, questions about the pack, the changes if she went with him, his admission of love. The mood that went from curious, to anger, to despair. His view of the drive over.
Erich, the youngest of the three, actually stumbles at the intensity of Lyssa's despair mixed with Emmett's own.
[I found her and they screwed it up. She was almost there, now she won't even look at me.]
[I'm sure they didn't mean to, Em. They were just looking out for the pack.]
[I was bringing her in. And, what about me? Aren't I part of this pack?]
[Hey, Em, buddy, it'll be alright.]
Emmett veers and knocks Roland over. [You don't know that. She hates me now!]
[Hey, they were curious; we all were. And, there hasn't been a human brought into the pack for ages.]
Emmett whirls on Erich now. [And that makes it alright? They messed up my life!]
[Randall, leave me alone for a while.]