Fighting the Inevitable Ch. 04byJazCullen©
Once more my thanks to Ashbaby for editing for me. It's greatly appreciated. Hope everyone enjoys this next chapter.
Caleb didn't quite know what to do with Rhianna. Half of him wanted to pull her into his embrace and kiss her senseless while the other half of him wanted to beat her to within an inch of her life for scaring him so badly.
He was vaguely aware that he'd need to address what it meant for him to have felt such fear for her but he wasn't willing to do so at the moment. Instead he opened the car door.
"Get in the car, Annie, and stay in it this time," he said tersely, almost taking the door off it's hinges when she did as he asked and he slammed it closed. He took five long strides away from the car and struggled to calm his anger. The car was a write off and wasn't going anywhere. He dug his cell phone from his pocket and hit his speed dial.
"Demetri, I need a car out on Old Forest Road, about half way down heading into town. I hit a wolf and the car's a write off."
"How'd you manage to hit a wolf?" Demetri asked with a healthy dose of surprise in his voice. A vampire's reflexes were phenomenal. His friend should have been able to avoid the Were.
"I don't have time to go into it," Caleb sighed. He could just imagine his friend's laughter if he admitted he'd been too busy mooning over Rhianna at the time of the accident. "Have someone else follow you out so you can get a lift back. I've got Rhianna with me and I don't want any additional passengers."
Demetri whistled loudly. "So, you managed to track her down. I'm impressed."
"Demetri, just get here as soon as you can," Caleb said tiredly running a hand through his hair. "This night has been a complete disaster and I just want to get it over and done with."
His friend laughed and hung up after promising to be there within the half hour. Caleb turned his head to peer back at the car and note Rhianna had remained safely inside. At least she was listening to him this time.
He kept his distance from the car, not trusting himself to not choke the life out of the little redhead. His thoughts were in a turmoil and the longer he didn't examine them the worse his rage was becoming. The blind panic and fear which had coursed through him as the brown wolf charged out of the trees had stunned him and left him immobile for a fraction of a second.
He was still dithering over what to do when the wolf stopped of his own accord in front of Rhianna and then the weirdness had really started. Caleb knew the wolf was a Were instantly. He knew the animal had clear, rational thoughts and was therefore less of a danger to Rhianna than a normal wolf.
Still the way the Were had submitted to the girl enraged him even as he was relieved the animal wasn't going to hurt her. Male Weres only ever submitted to their mates or children and the thought that this Dog was even contemplating mating with Rhianna brought a deep rage bubbling up from inside Caleb. He had wanted to rip the wolf limb from limb at the sheer audacity of him even deigning to think of mating with his woman.
That thought had stunned Caleb even more. First the fear for Rhianna, and then thinking of her as his woman. The emotions of fear and jealously were completely alien to him. He had never had this type of reaction to a woman before and he didn't like it one bit. In a matter of weeks she had turned his life upside down until he couldn't think straight and was feeling emotions he didn't want to feel.
He had to find some way to break her hold over him. He should just take her home and stay away from her. She was human and he was a vampire. She was short lived and way too fragile.
He could never tell her what he was. She was already mentally fragile enough because of the loss of her brother. How the hell could he turn around and tell her he was a vampire? He'd most likely send her completely over the edge and she'd end up in some mental institution.
Caleb sighed and put his hands in his pocket. Still, she adapted to the wolf pretty quickly. Granted, she had no idea she was stroking the belly and throat of a man who was only an animal part time. Would she have adapted so easily if she'd known the wolf was a Were? It was a moot point anyway. The Weres had left and the night was ruined. She'd probably never speak to him again either after the way he'd slammed the car door on her.
Rhianna watched Caleb covertly as he stood in front of the car with his hands in his pocket. He seemed really pissed at her. So pissed he didn't even want to be in the car with her. He'd called someone. Probably arranging a car to pick them up.
She was pissed at him too. He had no right to order her about as if she was a child. She was a grown woman and able to make her own decisions. The lovely warm feeling she had from meeting the large brown wolf had melted away in the face of Caleb's anger. It had been such a magical moment for her. She had felt such a strong connection to the wolf once she'd gotten over her initial fear. Now she just felt tired and disappointed. She just wanted to go home and forget she'd ever met Caleb Cullen. She closed her eyes and didn't open them again until the glare of headlights alerted her to an approaching car.
Caleb met Demetri as he stepped out of the car. His friend ran a practiced eye over him and grinned broadly. "Trouble in paradise, Caleb?"
"Fuck off," Caleb grunted taking the keys from him as a second car pulled up. "Just arrange to get the car towed and mind your own business."
He turned back to his car and strode over to it, opening the passenger door. "Come on, get your stuff," he said gruffly to the little redhead. He kept his gaze averted from her as she gathered her purse and wrap and got out the car.
He escorted her over to the black Volvo and opened the passenger door making sure to close this one with a lot less force than he'd used on his own car. He ignored Demetri and didn't bother making any introductions. His friend just laughed and walked forward to inspect the damage to the Porsche, his eyebrows rising as he took in the little car.
Caleb climbed into the Volvo and started the engine. Demetri had come from the opposite direction they'd been originally travelling in so he didn't need to turn the car around to take Rhianna back home.
The tension in the car was almost tangible. Neither spoke as Caleb shifted through the gears almost violently as the Volvo travelled at excess speed through the night. He didn't consciously decide to turn off towards his own house, it just seemed to happen and before he realised what he was doing he was pulling up outside the mansion.
"I thought you were taking me home," Rhianna said in a very small voice staring out the windshield at the large white mansion before her.
"So did I," Caleb answered tersely, unclipping his seatbelt and stepping out of the car. He walked around the bonnet and opened the passenger door waiting patiently as she hesitated before getting out the car.
He closed the door and headed up the steps and into the house, leaving her to follow behind him. He was still angry and he wanted some extra moments to himself to try and control his anger. He had no idea why he'd brought her home. It would have been better to take her back to her place so he would have more time to calm down.
Rhianna watched Caleb warily as she entered into the magnificent hallway. It had taken her breath away the first time she'd come here but this time she barely noticed it. She was too concerned about the barely controlled anger rolling off Caleb in waves. She didn't think he would physically hurt her but she didn't really know that much about the man. She couldn't stop the little shiver of fear which coursed through her body.
Caleb noticed her shiver and the slender control he had on his anger broke and his eyes narrowed dangerously. "You fear me?" he asked quietly. "You insult me by fearing me? You, who all but rolled in the road with a fucking animal who could have ripped your throat out in a blink of an eye?" His anger was palpable, his tone harsh as his golden brown eyes flashed dangerously.
"Wolfie would never have hurt me," Rhianna said defensively and realised instantly it was probably the worst thing she could have said to him at that moment. His hand snaked out so quickly she barely saw it move. One moment he was a few feet from her and the next his big hand was circling her neck and he was right before her, looming threateningly over her as a loud hiss escaped his throat.
She froze in panic a little whimper of fear bubbling out of her throat as he leaned down until his face was barely an inch from hers.
"You did not know that," he hissed quietly. "When I tell you to do something you will obey me instantly, Rhianna, or suffer the consequences."
His hand wasn't squeezing her neck, it was simply holding her in place, making sure she could not back away from him. His golden brown eyes were literally burning into her and she whimpered again as she tried to look away but found she couldn't do so.
Her fear infuriated him and also shamed him. She was terrified of him and he had no one to blame but himself. The admission tore through him and his hand moved slowly, lightly stroking over the curve of her fragile neck as he took a deep breath and dampened down his rage, his expression softening.
He moved that last inch closer to her and his mouth found hers, her startled gasp opening her soft lips so he could stroke his tongue inside her moist heat and taste her amazing sweetness again.
He groaned and gathered her into his arms, his mouth becoming more demanding as he opted to kiss her senseless rather than choke the life out of her. He could never hurt this beautiful, fragile little woman no matter how much she infuriated him.
Caleb's kiss stunned her for a second and then she was responding to him, her tongue searching for his, stroking him lightly over and over again as he pressed his hardness against her. Her fear melted away to be replaced with a deep, heady pleasure as his kiss deepened further and she was clutching at the lapels of his jacket to keep herself from falling. Not that she would have fallen. Caleb's strong arms were so securely around her he would most definitely have held her up if her knees did buckle as they were threatening to do.
Her memories of their night together seemed to pale in comparison to this hot, wet, luscious meeting of lips they were currently enjoying. She was quite literally swooning under the assault of his mouth even though she knew she should be fighting him. She should be giving him a piece of her mind at the chauvinistic way he was behaving but to do so would mean taking her lips away from his and she didn't want this wonderful feeling to end.
Caleb reluctantly pulled his lips from hers to allow her the opportunity to breathe. He rested his forehead against hers and took a deep ragged breath as he fought for a new kind of control, the control needed to not throw her down on the floor and ravish her beautiful little body the way he so badly wanted to.
"I'm sorry," he whispered quietly. "For a moment I thought that wolf was going to hurt you and I felt a fear I've never experienced in my life before. I reacted badly to that fear. I know that doesn't excuse my subsequent behaviour, Annie. I'm not trying to justify myself. I'm just explaining why I acted the way I did."
Rhianna let out a long, shaky breath and swallowed hard. Caleb sounded oddly vulnerable in his admission and that vulnerability tugged at something inside her. He was always so confident around her whether he was making love to her or pissed at her. Never before had he ever seemed so hesitant, so unsure of himself as he did right now.
"Caleb, I'm a grown woman," she said softly. "All my life I've had my brother at my side, helping me make my decisions. He's gone now and I'm left in the position where I have to learn how to stand on my own two feet. I don't need another man to come into my life and start making my decisions for me. Yes, it probably would have been wiser if I stayed in the car tonight but I chose not to. Meeting Wolfie was a wondrous experience and you spoiled it for me with your caveman behaviour."
Caleb sighed and straightened up moving away from her and putting his hands in his pocket to stop himself from dragging her back into his arms. "I'm sorry, Annie," he said simply. There really wasn't anything else he could say. Her disappointment was palpable and he was the cause of it.
She watched him silently for a moment warring with the need to give in to him, to grant him forgiveness but she knew if she did so then she would be silently giving him permission to behave like that again. "I'd like to go home now, Caleb," she finally said quietly.
Caleb wanted to refuse, wanted to demand she stay with him but the set expression of her beautiful face told him it was the wrong thing to do.
"I'll take you home," he sighed running a hand through his long hair. "Will you let me make this up to you, Annie? Can we try again to go out for dinner or a movie or something?"
Rhianna frowned slightly as she looked up into his face. He seemed sincere in his request but she wasn't sure if she wanted to see him again. She didn't need another man to come into her life and take over it. She loved Rafe and missed him terribly but he had sheltered her far longer than he had needed to and that was why she had taken his death so hard. She had quite literally been at a loss at how to go on without him. It was time she learned to take care of herself.
"I'm not sure, Caleb," she said with a deep sigh. "I'll have to think about it. I need some time to decide what I'm going to do with my life. I'm not sure if you're someone who fits in with what I want my life to be from now on."
She watched him digest what she said and saw displeasure cross his face before an expression of resignation took it's place. "I understand," he said quietly before turning towards the door to take her home.
There was a feeling of jubilation among the pack as the rogue was finally brought to heel. They didn't even seem put out by the fact that it had been stopped by a vampire mowing it down with his car rather than the pack putting it down. The men and woman who made up the pack were just happy it was finally dead and there would be no more failed forced turnings.
Jared was relieved too but also angry. He had to deal with Rafe and he wasn't looking forward to it because he had felt the man's deep pain at having to walk away from his sister. He nodded to Aaron and headed inside his house to put on a pair of jeans and a shirt.
Ten minutes later Aaron and Rafe entered having changed into clothes too. Jared's intent gaze took in Rafe's misery and he struggled not to empathise with him. He had endangered the entire pack tonight and he had to be punished.
"Leave us, Aaron," he said tersely and waited for his beta to depart before he ordered Rafe to sit down in the chair in front of his desk. He sat down behind the desk and glared angrily at the man.
"You endangered the pack tonight, Rafe," he said quietly.
The other man's head shot up and he met his eyes defiantly. "How did I do that, Jared?" he demanded sullenly. "I remained in wolf form. I did not reveal myself to Annie. I came back to the pack as ordered."
"You came back to the pack when your sister told you to!" Jared barked angrily. "You ignored my direct order to return to the pack. I am the Alpha! You obey me at all times, not when it's convenient for you to do so!" He slammed his hand down hard on the desk to emphasise his words.
Rafe dropped his gaze from his Alpha and bowed his head. Everything Jared said was true. He had disobeyed his Alpha and he knew enough about pack law to know this meant he was in serious trouble.
"What is my punishment," he asked with a weary sigh. Whatever it was he would endure it. Having that brief moment with his sister was worth whatever punishment his Alpha was going to mete out to him.
"Do you think I want to punish you, Rafe?" Jared asked with a muffled groan. "Do you think I don't understand how painful and hard it was for you tonight to be so close to Annie and have to walk away from her? I see right inside you, Rafe. I understand she is more your child than your sister. You have cared for her for so long and I understand how your relationship with her has changed because of it."
He stood up and began to pace around the study angrily. Dealing with Rafe presented so many challenges which he didn't have to put up with usually. He didn't want to break the man's spirit. He'd been through so much already through no fault of his own. Jared had to try and maintain authority whilst tempering his judgement to reflect the rather unique circumstances of Rafe's forced turning. He didn't want to lose him from the pack.
Jared stopped pacing and returned to his chair. "Your circumstances make things difficult, Rafe," he said quietly. "If you were an ordinary member of the pack I would simply have you flogged for disobedience and then set to the most menial tasks for a prescribed period of time. I find I cannot do this with you though. Doing so would only increase your hatred of pack life and you would slip further from us, possibly even going rogue."
Rafe stared at him in shock and then suddenly he was furiously angry. "I will never turn rogue!" he hissed furiously. "I will never be like that animal who did this to me! Decree your punishment, Jared. Flog me and set me to the menial tasks. I will accept your judgement."
Jared frowned thoughtfully at him and then suddenly smiled wryly. "Yes, you would accept the punishment and go right ahead and disobey me all over again," he remarked dryly. "You'd gladly accept any form of punishment just to experience that brief moment with Annie again."
Rafe looked away from his Alpha. It was true, the damned man really could see right inside him.
"You leave me no choice, Rafe," Jared sighed. "It pains be to do so but I am promoting you to a beta. Perhaps if you experience some responsibility for having to care for the pack it will instil a sense of belonging to you and you can understand the need to follow the correct chain of command."
Rafe growled and jumped up angrily. "No, you can't do this," he cried. "I do not want to be a beta!" He understood the enormity of Jared's punishment. Aaron was a beta and he was Rafe's closest friend here. He routinely watched Aaron settling minor disputes, taking charge of various parts of pack life, of being responsible for every single Were beneath him.
"You have no choice, " Jared answered firmly. "Well, you do have one choice," he amended. "You can either accept your promotion or you can challenge me for the position of Alpha."
The look of total horror which crossed Rafe's face satisfied Jared's wolf completely. The hulking man before him had no wish ever to be Alpha even though he was capable of doing so. Rafe Armand would never challenge Jared for leadership.
"That is not a choice," Rafe finally ground out, his shoulders slumping slightly in defeat.
"I'm sorry, Rafe," Jared said quietly. "I know this is not what you want. I know you wish you could return to your old life as if none of this had ever happened. It has happened though and it cannot be changed. Aaron will begin your training as a beta and you will accept the huge responsibility which is now on your shoulders. You will protect this pack with your life as we all do."
Rafe bowed his head and mumbled his agreement. He turned and left the Alpha's house with a heavy heart.
Aaron was waiting not far away, his handsome face concerned as he saw the dejected figure approach. "What was the Alpha's punishment?" he asked quietly, concerned for his friend. "Are you to be flogged?"