Fighting the Inevitable Ch. 04byJazCullen©
Rafe's tortured gaze met his and he shook his head miserably. "You are to teach me how to be a beta," he answered quietly.
Aaron threw his head back and laughed loudly as he slapped Rafe on the back. "The Alpha is truly evil at times, my friend," he said good-naturedly. "Don't look so woeful. Being an beta has many perks as well as much responsibility. You will make an excellent beta, Rafe."
Rafe seriously doubted it but he had no choice in the matter. Jared was forcing him more fully into the pack and there was nothing he could do about it.
Rhianna smiled as she drove her car along the dark road surrounded by large, looming trees. She found herself smiling often whenever she drove along the Old Forest Road. It had been a week since the night she'd met Wolfie and she always found herself looking out for the hulking beast as she travelled the road. She watched her speed too just in case any wolves shot across her path. She didn't want to accidentally run one over.
Her smile slipped a little as her thoughts invariably turned to Caleb. It was hard not to think of him too as she drove along this road. He'd taken her home that night and waited until she was safely inside before he drove away. She hadn't heard a word from him since and she felt a mixture of relief and also a deep longing to see him again.
She couldn't seem to think straight when the man was around her. His overt sexuality overwhelmed her and she found herself giving in to him with little or no fight at all. The man was also a mass of contradictions. He could be loving and kind and so terribly frightening as well. Everything about him scared her witless and yet she still longed to see him again.
She smiled ruefully and rolled her eyes. He probably hadn't given her a passing thought since he'd dropped her off home. He might have desired her but after their fight last week he had most probably moved on to someone who was a lot less high maintenance than she was.
She slowed the car on impulse when she recognised the area they'd hit the wolf last week. She pulled over and climbed out of the car, her eyes peering into the dark at the tree line. She couldn't really see that far into the trees but she still peered intently looking for any sign of movement.
"Wolfie?" she called quietly, holding her breath to see if she could detect any sign of movement. "Are you there, Wolfie?" she called again. She was conscious of just how incredibly stupid and possibly dangerous it was to stop in the middle of the forest at night and look for a wild wolf. Caleb would be pitching a fit if he could see her right now but she felt pulled toward the wolf in a way she just couldn't explain. She had even dreamed about Wolfie a couple of times in the last week.
This strange connection she felt towards the wolf was confusing. She liked animals well enough and had even had a dog when she was younger but she wasn't as fond of them as Rafe had been. He had been the true animal lover in the family. So why did she feel this need to stop and see if Wolfie was around?
Rafe watched Annie from the shelter of the trees. He'd come here every night over the last week hoping to catch one more glimpse of his little sister. He thought he'd seen her a couple of times passing in her car but she'd never stopped before. He ached to break out of the cover of the trees and let her know he was there.
He knew Jared would be down on top of him like a ton of bricks if he did. Even now he could feel his Alpha approaching as if he could somehow sense his beta was up to no good. He broke cover of the trees just long enough for his beloved Annie to catch sight of him for a brief moment. He whined softly once and then turned and slunk back into the trees.
Rhianna was sure it was Wolfie she'd just seen. He had only been there for a short moment and disappeared again but she was sure it was him. She stood silently for a long moment hoping he would come back but he didn't. The chill in the night air sent a shiver down her spine and she got back in her car and carried on home.
Millie was in a stinking mood when Rhianna got home. Her usually even tempered best friend was banging noisily in the kitchen as she muttered dark threats under her breath.
"What's wrong, Mills?" Rhianna asked surprised at the temper on display.
"What's wrong?" her friend practically shrieked. "Jared bloody Hanlon is what's wrong. That man had the barefaced nerve to call me at work today. Work of all places. He knew damned well I would have to hold my tongue because I was in the office."
Rhianna smothered a smile. Jared Hanlon called Millie daily, much to her friend's disgust. She managed to avoid most of the calls and the few which did reach her she would bluntly tell him where to get off before hanging up. Rhianna liked the big man. He had been very kind to her after Rafe's death. She couldn't understand why Millie was so put out by such a gorgeous specimen of a man being interested in her.
"Why don't you go out with him?" she asked her friend and then ducked quickly when a saucepan sailed in her direction. "I was only asking, Mills. If you went out with him once then maybe he'd stop calling you." Her eyes lit up with amusement.
"You could make yourself out to be the world's worst date like that movie we watched the other night. The one were guys paid a man to date their exes and be such an ass to them they ran back to their old boyfriends." She couldn't remember the movie's name but it had been kind of funny in a cringe worthy way.
Millie blinked at her for a long moment and then slowly smiled. "Maybe that would work," she said brushing her black curls out of her face. "Annie, you could be a genius."
Rhianna laughed and picked up the saucepan which had landed on the sofa. "Only could be?"
"You'd need to sort out your own love life before you were definitely a genius," Millie laughed her cheeks flushing slightly as she accepted the saucepan back. "Sorry about that," she said sheepishly.
"I don't know why you're so angry at Jared," Rhianna sighed sitting down at the breakfast table and slipping her shoes off. "The man is tall, dark, and extremely handsome. He has the body of a Greek God and he's charming with it. What isn't there to like about him?"
Millie groaned and sat down next to her. "I don't know, Annie. There's something about the man which sets me on edge. He's so cocky and sure of himself. It's almost as if he thinks all he has to do is crook his little finger and I'll melt into his arms and do whatever he tells me to. I'm not that kind of woman, Annie. I don't submit to that macho male crap."
Rhianna smiled and shook her head. She could kind of understand where Millie was coming from. She had practically run from Caleb when he'd tried his macho crap on her, only she had been with Caleb and she knew just what she missing out on by running from him. Millie was running and she hadn't even had the chance to sample the delights of Jared Hanlon.
She found herself trying to imagine what Jared would be like as a lover. He oozed the very same sexual confidence which Caleb did. He was probably just as skilled as Caleb in the bedroom, and yet, despite all the things going for Jared he did not spark one single bit of interest in her. He was just a very handsome, charming man to Rhianna. A friend and nothing more.
"What are you thinking about?" Millie asked curiously.
"I was trying to imagine Jared as a lover," Rhianna smiled, her smile broadening at the unconscious look of displeasure which crossed her friend's face and the slight tensing of her body. So Millie wasn't interested in Jared? Yeah, right!
"I couldn't imagine it though," she continued on as if she hadn't noticed her friend's reaction. "I keep thinking of Caleb instead," she admitted.
"You really liked him, didn't you?" Millie asked her quietly. She didn't know why her friend had stopped seeing the gorgeous man. Rhianna had been very tight lipped about their short lived date last week.
Rhianna's suddenly thoughtful expression was broken by a smile. "I still do," she confessed. "He was just exhibiting some of the macho male crap you so disapprove of and I needed a bit of time to myself to decide if it was something I could put up with or not."
"And?" her friend coaxed gently.
"And I'm going to go and see him tonight," Rhianna announced slowly as if she had only just made the decision.
Millie was surprised at her announcement and also pleased. Her friend had no idea just how animated she became when she talked about Caleb. He seemed to the one of the few people who could make Rhianna smile these days. He seemed to be pretty good at pissing her off too but that was healthy. Laughing and temper tantrums were all part of living and finally Rhianna was starting to live again.
"Maybe you should give Jared a chance too, Mills. You never know you may be pleasantly surprised." Rhianna said with a smile.
Her friend's expression turned doubtful so she decided not to push it any further as she rose from her chair and headed towards her bedroom to get ready. "Oh, have a look in my bag, Mills. I've been working on an idea and I've done up a business plan. Let me know what you think."
Millie had a big smile on her face as she read through Rhianna's business plan for her bookshop. She pouted her lips at the name 'Armand's Bookshop'. It felt almost impersonal, lacking the intimacy of the proposed type of bookstore. Bookstore was definitely better than Bookshop. She pondered it some more and then slowly smiled. Hunting for a pen, she scrolled across the top of the first page of the business plan. 'Create Your Own Happiness Bookstore'.
It sounded a bit clichéd but it had been one of Rafe's favourite sayings whenever they were sad about something. He would just sit them down and gently tell them that they created their own happiness. It had always made them feel better. She wondered if Rhianna would like it.
Her friend appeared out of her room ten minutes later. Millie's smile widened as she took in the little black skirt and purple halter neck top Rhianna was wearing.
"Smoking hot, girl," she laughed and made her best leer face.
Rhianna threw her head back and burst out laughing, her long auburn curls swaying around her as she did. "Let's hope Caleb thinks so too," she smiled as she sat down at the table beside her friend.
"So, what did you think of the bookshop?" she asked Millie as she grabbed an apple out the fruit bowl and bit into it.
Millie's cobalt blue eyes shone as she smiled her approval at the idea. "I thought the name was a bit impersonal but apart from that it sounds really fantastic, Annie. I'd be up for offering my services as a storyteller at the weekends." She passed the plan over to Rhianna and watched her friend's face intently as she read her scrawled writing across the top of the page.
Rhianna looked up at Millie and her lavender eyes gleamed wetly even as her smile was radiant across her face. "It's perfect, Mills," she whispered. "It's all of us together forever."
Millie returned her smile and squeezed her friend's hand gently as it rested on the table. "That's what I thought when I wrote it," she said softly.
"Crack open that bottle of red in the refrigerator, Mills," Rhianna said with a big smile. "Let's have a toast."
Millie jumped up and opened the red wine pouring out two very generous glasses and handing one to her friend.
"To new beginnings and creating your own happiness," Rhianna smiled.
"Amen to that, Annie," Millie laughed as they clinked glasses together.
Rhianna finished her wine then grabbed her wrap and purse and headed for the door.
"Call Jared, Millie," she called over her shoulder. "Take a leap of faith!"
Millie grunted at her and laughed as the door closed behind her friend. Maybe Annie was right. Maybe she should take a chance. She considered it briefly for a moment and then frowned. She was not ready to give in to Jared Hanlon. Not yet.
Rhianna took a cab. She had two choices of where to head to either Caleb's mansion or Karpathia's. She opted to try Karpathia's first. It was a Friday night and most people went out to wind down after a long, hard week at work. She gave the cab driver the address and sat back for the short ride to the club.
She tried to calm down her heart which had suddenly started beating quite loudly in her chest. What if Caleb wasn't interested anymore? What if she got to the club and he was wrapped in some other woman's arms? Well, it would be her own damned fault if that was the case but she wouldn't know if he'd moved on if she didn't at least try to find him.
Caleb was lounging in the shadows, his bored eyes running across the crowded room wishing he'd ignored Demetri's incessant bullying to come out tonight. He was tired and cranky and he just wanted to go home and put his feet up.
He'd tried to slip out a couple of times but Demetri had appeared at his side both times and halted his escape with a deep frown and a long lecture about how it was time for him to give up on Rhianna and get back into the swing of things. Caleb caved in both times just to shut his friend up. His constant nagging was driving him insane.
He was just about to make his third bid for freedom. Demetri was sitting in a booth with a lithe little brunette tucked up in his lap so the chances of Caleb getting out this time were more encouraging than the last two attempts. He watched Demetri move in for another long, lusty kiss with the brunette and he took a deep breath and froze where he stood.
Lavender and jasmine assaulted his nostrils and his eyes widened as he slowly turned his head towards the club door. He blinked slowly as Rhianna walked in, her gaze quickly sweeping around the room.
God, she was so stunningly beautiful she took his breath away. His greedy gaze ran over her little body and he smothered a groan at the sexy little skirt and top she was wearing. The material clung to her body like a fitted glove showing off all her wonderful assets and making his body harden instantly.
He knew she couldn't see him in the shadows. It was one of the reasons both himself and Demetri kept this part of the club so dimly lit. So they could hide within the shadows and survey the entire room unobserved. Rhianna was definitely looking for someone. Was she looking for him? He didn't dare hope she was but he did remember telling her he was a silent partner in the club. Surely she must be looking for him. She wouldn't be so cruel as to arrange a date with another man in the very place she knew he would most likely be?
Rhianna couldn't see Caleb and she struggled to hide her disappointment. She would have to try his mansion then. If he wasn't there then she'd just go home again. At least she would have tried to catch up with him. She was just about to turn to leave when her eyes were drawn to a couple in the booth across from her and something about the man caught her eye.
He was really gorgeous and had long flowing black hair which was loose and obscuring his face slightly. Even so there was something about him which made her think she knew him from somewhere. She stepped a little further into the room just as the woman on the man's lap brushed his hair back from his face and she got a better view of him.
He was the man who had come out with the Volvo when Caleb's car had been written off. He was a friend of Caleb's she was sure of that though she didn't know his name. He would probably know where Caleb was but he appeared to be a little bit busy at the moment.
Rhianna's eyes went wide as she saw the man run a hand up the woman's thigh and slide it under her short skirt. Was he really touching her intimately in the middle of a club? Her cheeks flushed scarlet and she looked away and nervously clutched at her stomach. She couldn't very well walk over there now and ask where Caleb was and yet, if she didn't she may lose her nerve and never try to find him again.
Squaring her shoulders she walked determinedly over to the booth and stopped as she reached it. The man and woman ignored her and continued kissing as if they were somewhere private and Rhianna felt her embarrassment mount. She timidly cleared her throat whilst trying to look anywhere but at the couple.
Demetri growled low in his throat as the human woman's scent washed over him and her little throat noise interrupted his very pleasant moment with the woman in his arm. "I'm busy," he grunted not even bothering to look up. "Come back later if you want some action."
Rhianna gasped at his abrupt tone and his automatic assumption that she wanted in on the 'action'. She felt her temper spark and her embarrassment deepen and she couldn't stop her tart response. "Oh, please!" she said sarcastically. "I have much better taste than you!"
Her tone literally dripped with derision and Caleb found himself smiling from his spot in the corner as she knocked Demetri down a peg or two.
Demetri stopped kissing the brunette and looked up with a hint of surprise in his cool green eyes. He looked at the woman before him and then he slowly smiled. "Well, well, well, if it isn't the little redhead," he drawled pushing the brunette from his lap as he sat up straight. "Give me a moment, darling," he said to the woman as he shooed her away with a hand, his full concentration on Rhianna.
"So, what can I do for you, Rhianna?" he asked with a slightly mocking smile. "I suppose you're looking for Caleb? Feel the need to do a little more emasculating of my friend?"
His words were nasty and cutting and totally undeserved. She stared down at the gorgeous man and felt an itch in her palm. She clenched her hand closed so she didn't smack his smug face as he looked up at her.
"What goes on between Caleb and I is none of your business," she said frostily squaring her shoulders against his glacial green gaze. "You're hardly one to talk about what's appropriate anyway. Not after what I've just witnessed. You do know there are public indecency laws? This is a public place and what you were doing to that poor woman just now was outrageous."
She knew she was sounding stuffy and prudish but something about the man was rubbing her up the wrong way. It didn't help she was still feeling embarrassed and nervous at seeing Caleb again too. The combination of everything was making her lash out at him though he didn't seem the least put out about it judging from his expression.
Demetri threw back his head and laughed loudly. "Who the fuck are you, Martha Stewart?" he laughed. "Believe me, darling, that little filly was most definitely not complaining about what I was 'doing' to her. On the contrary she was loving every single second of it."
Rhianna felt her face flushing scarlet again but she held her ground. The man may be gorgeous to look at but he had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
"Fine, I'm not going to argue with you," she snapped. "I just want to know where Caleb is. Is he here tonight?"
Demetri glanced in the corner and saw Caleb glaring at him with a murderous expression on his face. He knew his friend could hear every word being said and was not at all pleased with what he'd heard so far. He sighed deeply and looked back at the redhead. If he didn't apologise to the girl his friend would most probably try and rearrange his face for him. He sighed deeply again.
"My apologies, Rhianna," he said quietly. "You caught me at an inopportune moment and my manners were severely lacking. Yes, Caleb is here tonight. Do you wish me to tell him you're looking for him?"
She was taken aback by the complete change in the man and she looked around quickly to see if she could spot Caleb anywhere near them. She didn't see him and turned back to the booth.
"I'm sorry too," she said thawing slightly. "You have me at a disadvantage. You appear to know who I am but I have no idea who you are other than you brought the replacement car out to Old Forest Road last week."