Fighting the Inevitable Ch. 05byJazCullen©
Please include as Introduction.. "Things are finally hotting up a bit more in this chapter as more revelations come to light. Hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to ashbaby for editing for me once again."
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Caleb had a quick word with Demetri before he drove Rhianna home. She was tired but had a big smile on her face.
"I really enjoyed tonight, Caleb," she smiled at him. "Thank you for a lovely evening."
"I enjoyed it too, Annie," he smiled back reaching over and brushing her curls from her face. "I'm already looking forward to spending the day with you tomorrow."
He pulled up outside her apartment and walked her to her front door. "I'm going to miss you the moment you go inside," he sighed softly.
She melted against him and he lifted her up so she could wrap her arms around his neck as he kissed her almost desperately. His sudden need surprised her and she pulled back and looked at him quizzically but he just smiled and placed a gentle kiss on her mouth before her let her down again.
"Get inside before I forget all my gentlemanly behaviour," he teased lightly and pushed her inside. His smile melted instantly when she closed the door and he took the stairs down three at a time.
He sped all the way down Old Forest Road until he came to the parked cars of Demetri and some of their friends. Demetri was already standing outside his car waiting for him and he signalled the other vampires to stay in the cars for now and turned to face the trees.
"Hanlon!" he roared at the top of his voice and Demetri looked at him with a concerned expression.
"Caleb, what the fuck is going on?" his friend asked. Caleb had asked him to call Hanlon and demand a meeting. He hadn't stipulated why he wanted the meeting but the barely controlled rage his friend was currently exhibiting was concerning him.
Caleb didn't answer him. In truth, he was too furious to speak. He glared into the trees until the enormous shapes of half a dozen wolves appeared, the big black Alpha leading the way, the brown wolf close at his side.
The wolves surveyed the vampires intently for a moment and then Jared shifted and rose to his feet standing naked before him. "What's this all about, Cullen?" he asked tersely. "Why did you having your lackey call and demand this meeting?"
Demetri rolled his eyes and leaned against his car. He was way too old to let a stupid dog goad him into losing his temper. Better dogs had tried and failed. His gaze remained fixed on his friend who was ignoring the Alpha and glaring at the large brown wolf at his side.
Caleb pointed at the brown wolf and growled, "Change!"
Jared took a step forward, his hands clenching at his sides. "You don't get to order my pack around, bloodsucker," he spat out angrily.
"I'm not talking to a member of your pack, Dog, I'm talking to the brother of the woman I intend to spend the rest of my life with," Caleb hissed. He glared at the wolf as it growled loudly at him. He didn't even register what he had just admitted to but Demetri did and was staring at his friend in shock.
"Change!" he roared. "I want to look the bastard in the eye that broke my woman's heart and then played with her here on this road. Change, Armand, or so help me God I will rip your throat out where you stand. You're already dead to Annie. She'll never know you died twice, Dog!"
Demetri straightened as loud growls echoed through the trees. "Caleb, calm yourself," he said tersely. "I understand your anger," he paused and then smiled wryly. "Actually I don't understand it because I've never been in love before, but are you really willing to start a war with the dogs over this? Do you really think this would be what the little redhead wants? You can't be killing her brother, my friend. She'll be very put out about it."
Caleb turned his head and shot his friend a murderous look.
Demetri stepped back and put his hands up. "I'm only saying, Caleb. Maybe you should calm down a little first and think things through. I'm more than happy to help you with the dogs. I just don't think Annie will be mighty impressed about it when she finds out."
"If they're all dead then she'll never have to find out," Caleb said coldly his gaze once more swinging to the brown wolf.
"There are more of us than there are of you," Jared said calmly. "You should listen to your friend, Cullen. Go and cool your head. Come back when you can be reasonable about things. If you truly cared anything for Annie then you'd know what he says is true. She will find out and she'll hate you until the day she dies."
Caleb felt his rage boil over as he turned to the Alpha. "Don't you dare pretend you give a flying fuck about Annie, you stinking dog," he roared furiously. "If it wasn't bad enough you took her brother from her now you're sniffing around her best friend! Do you know how cute Annie's finds your pursuit of Millie? She thinks it's so romantic you won't give up despite being rejected time and time again. She's actively encouraging Millie to go on a fucking date with you she thinks it's so romantic. She has no idea that you're planning to steal the only family member she has left from her. She knows nothing about Weres and their mating. She doesn't understand that when Millie finally agrees to mate with you she'll never see her friend ever again!"
Rafe let out an agonising howl and shifted into human form. "You bastard," he roared at Jared. "You fucking sneaky, lying bastard! You said you'd take care of Annie. You said you'd make sure she was okay when all the time you were plotting on how to get your hands on Millie!"
"Rafe, it wasn't like that," Jared said calmly. "The bloodsucker is twisting things to his advantage. Don't let him push your buttons."
"He's the only one talking any sense here," Rafe ground out hoarsely. "He is right to be furious at me. I let you keep me here when every instinct in me said to go home to Annie. I let you convince me it had to be this way, that the pack had to be protected. The pack was never in any danger from my sister. She would never have told anyone about us. To do so would have endangered me and she would never do anything to cause me any harm."
"Rafe, the protection of the pack is paramount," Jared said patiently. "You've been with us long enough to know that. We can't start picking and choosing who someone thinks can be trusted to know our secret. It just doesn't work that way. Eventually the wrong person would be chosen and all of us would be in danger. It's a pack law and a pack decision. Everyone has agreed to it."
"I never agreed to it," Rafe growled. "I didn't ask to be made into one of you. You let one of your kind go mad and run around attacking people and killing them. I wish to God that rogue had killed me too. It's your fault I'm like this. Your laws fucked up somewhere and you didn't protect innocents like me and do you give a shit about it? No, you don't. Not only am I punished by becoming a Were I have to lose the most precious thing in my life too!"
Rafe suddenly broke. " You wouldn't even let me be with her in my wolf form." Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at his Alpha. "She knew me, Jared," he groaned in anguish. "Even as a wolf my Annie knew somehow me and you wouldn't even give me that!"
Jared frowned deeply as Rafe broke before his eyes. The man's anger petered out as quickly as it had arrived and he sank to his knees to the ground weeping inconsolably.
Aaron broke rank and flew to the big man's side, chuffing gently and rubbing his head against his shoulder.
"Are you happy now, bloodsucker?" Jared asked coldly turning to Cullen. "Months of very painful, hard work has just been pissed down the drain because of you. You may not think much of us or how I run this pack but you've no right to destroy a member of my pack just because you want to bed his sister. Get the fuck off my land. If you come back here we will take it as a declaration of war between our kind."
He turned his back to the vampires and helped Rafe to his feet. He murmured low to the weeping man as the wolves flanked them as they disappeared into the trees.
Caleb watched them go silently, pursing his lips. He'd learned a lot from the encounter and not everything to his liking. Rhianna's brother was in deep torment. A torment he had increased greatly tonight. He had expected to feel some kind of satisfaction but instead he felt hollow inside. She'd hate him for hurting her brother. It wouldn't matter how angry she was at her brother she would still hate him for what he'd done this night.
Caleb didn't sleep well. He tossed and turned most of the night trying to think of some way to make things right. He'd wounded Rhianna's brother gravely. His ignorance of the events leading up to Rafe's turning was no excuse. He sighed loudly and got up. He had a shower and pulled on a pair of old faded levis and a silk shirt.
His erratic emotions were making life difficult to say the least. He was so used to always being in control. He didn't know how to handle the extreme mood swings he was now subject too. It was all Rhianna's fault. He'd been just fine up until the night she'd walked into Karpathia's. Now he all these raging emotions deep inside him and it was disconcerting to say the least.
He shook his head as he pulled on his boots. He wondered if Demetri had gone home or stayed the night so he could continue on with his berating of him first thing this morning. His friend had been livid last night. Screaming furiously at him about starting a war with the Weres.
That had been an unexpected turn of events. He hadn't expected Hanlon to react so aggressively. They'd managed to co-exist for over two centuries which was pretty good going considering the natural loathing Weres had for Vampires. Hell, he'd even become somewhat friendly with the Alpha over the years.
He dug out his cell phone and called Hanlon. He had to nip this talk of war in the bud before it got out of hand. The call was frosty to say the least but he managed to persuade the Alpha to agree to meet him on Old Forest Road. It was barely six am so Caleb had time to meet with him before he went to pick up Rhianna for lunch.
Caleb leaned against the hood of his new Porsche and waited for Jared to appear. He wondered if he would come in wolf form or human. The form he took would be a good indicator of just how furious the Alpha was. He waited for half an hour staring sightlessly in front of him with his arms crossed. He scented a human and turned his head slowly to see Jared striding from the trees in a pair of old denims and a denim shirt.
Caleb schooled his expression carefully and tried not to let the Alpha see his sigh of relief.
"What do you want, Cullen?" Jared barked aggressively coming to a halt a few feet away from him and folding his arms across his wide chest.
Caleb's golden brown eyes regarded the Alpha for a long moment before he dropped his carefully constructed mask and let his true weariness show. "A way out of this sorry mess, Jared," he said wearily.
He saw a bit of the tension leave the Alpha's body and the man walked closer to him. Caleb moved over slightly and Jared rested his long body against the hood beside him.
"You were out of control last night, Caleb," Jared said with a deep sigh. "I've never seen you so wild before, not in the whole two centuries I've known you."
Caleb nodded his head in agreement, his lips twitching in a rueful smile. "I surprised even myself last night," he admitted. "This whole feeling things is a complete minefield to me, Jared. I don't understand it and I don't know what to do with it."
Jared swung his head around and watched Caleb's face intently. "You love her?" he asked incredulously. The finer feelings in life were a bit sparse when it came to vampires. Some of them did remember enough of their former humanity to be able to bond emotionally with others but usually it was all about sexual gratification with no strings attached.
Caleb frowned deeply and stared down at the road. "I don't know," he finally said. "It's been so long since I've felt the emotion I don't know if I'd recognise it. All I am sure of is at this moment in time she is all I think of. From the very first moment I met her I've craved to be with her. Her scent, her beauty, her blood, her body, every single part of her calls to me constantly. I want her and yet I give her space to get to know me first. Usually I just take what I want."
Jared chuckled lightly and stared off down the road. "Sounds like love to me," he said with a wry smile. "It explains your shocking behaviour last night too."
Caleb met his eyes. "We were at the club last night. She was telling me about her little bookstore she was going to open, mentioned the unexpected life insurance policy her brother had and the very kind man Jared Hanlon who had come and told her about it. I put two and two together and worked out 'Wolfie' was her brother. You're a good Alpha, Jared. You always make sure families are taken care of when you add to your pack. It wasn't hard to figure it out. I lost it, my friend. Her pain and grief at losing Rafe is so deep. I was infuriated that he was alive and with your pack when she was suffering so because of his loss."
"You know how difficult it is for us to maintain our secret, Caleb," Jared sighed sadly. "You think I want Annie to be suffering like this? I barely know the girl and yet I like her immensely. I can see why Rafe has struggled so hard with joining the pack, why he craves to return to her. She is sweetness and innocence and kindness all rolled into one. I take no pleasure in her pain but it is necessary to protect the pack."
Caleb shifted, standing straight and stretching his long legs. "I understand your dilemma even if I disapprove of it, Jared," he finally replied. "I can't condone anything which hurts my Annie but I do understand it. I know your pack laws forbid outsiders from knowing your true nature. I know you can't break the laws not even to save Rafe."
Jared nodded his head sadly. "He is the only one of five innocents to survive the forced turning. It took three weeks for him to be coherent enough to begin to understand what had happened to him. Many days I thought he would lose the battle but he fought hard to live. I believe he fought for Annie's sake. I think somewhere deep inside him he wanted to return to her."
He turned to his side so he could look directly at the vampire. "He's a latent Alpha, Caleb," he said quietly. "His nature is too gentle to allow him to lead. He abhors violence and that has been an added reason why he has struggled so hard to be one with the pack. His last meeting with Annie when he was wolf form seemed to help him to integrate more. He seemed more at peace with himself and even began to take women to his bed. That was until last night."
Caleb looked down at the road and pursed his lips thoughtfully. "How is he today?"
"We put him in the safe room last night just as a precaution but apart from weeping he maintained enough control of himself so I let him out after a few hours. One of my betas Aaron is his closest friend so he stayed at his house last night. Aaron says he is quiet and withdrawn but appears stable enough. He reckons Rafe will work out his issues in his own mind and find a balance eventually."
Jared straightened and took a few steps from the car, automatically letting his eyes roam over the surrounding area for any signs of movement. He had come to the meeting alone but he wouldn't put it passed some of his pack to be hanging around just in case there was trouble. He didn't see any of them but he knew they were there.
Caleb watched him with a slight smile of his lips. He, too, knew the other Weres were about but he didn't take it as an insult. After last night it was only right they were wary of him and why he wanted to speak to their Alpha.
"Jared, the only way I can see out of this mess if for Annie to know the truth," he said quietly seeing the other man tense. He held up his hand as the Alpha spun around to face him. "Hear me out first. You cannot tell her of your existence but I can tell her of mine. I hadn't planned on letting her know my true nature so soon but it would appear it's necessary for the truth to come out. Once she knows of vampires she will find out about Weres too. Once she knows of Weres there will be no reason to keep Rafe from her."
Jared frowned deeply and dug his hands in his pockets. "That's just semantics, Caleb, and you know it. It doesn't matter who tells her about Weres it's the fact she would know of our existence."
"What do you think your mate will say when she finds out about all of this?" Caleb countered, watching the Alpha tense. "Do you think she'll agree to stay with you knowing your part in her friend's misery? I've only met Millie once but I could sense her deep attachment to Annie. She will not roll over and agree to mate with you, Jared, you know that yourself otherwise you would have taken her for your own by now."
Millie beautiful face sprang to Jared's mind and his wolf howled loudly and began to pace restlessly. What Caleb said was true. His Millie would fight him tooth and nail over Annie and Rafe. He didn't need the vampire to tell him that. He sighed and his frown deepened.
"This is what I will agree to, Caleb," he said carefully. "You reveal yourself to Annie and we will see how she handles that little bombshell. If she's willing to accept you for who you truly are then I will meet with you again and we will discuss whether or not she can be trusted with the knowledge of our existence. If I feel she can handle it, I will take it to the pack and we'll put it to a vote. I cannot make this decision arbitrarily, my friend. I have over two hundred lives to protect here. They deserve to have a say in this."
Caleb regarded him intently for a long moment and then finally nodded his agreement. "Will Rafe be strong enough to hold on until a decision is reached?" he asked quietly.
Jared's eyes turned sad. He genuinely liked the big man and it pained him greatly to lose him. "I don't know, Caleb," he replied honestly, "but you have to understand, my friend. I cannot risk the lives of two hundred for the sake of one, no matter how much I like him."
Caleb walked over to the Alpha and held out his hand. "I understand, Jared."
Jared clasped Caleb's arm in a firm grip and managed a crooked smile. "I'm relieved I do not have to go to war with you, Caleb."
"As am I," Caleb smiled before turning and striding back to his car. He slid in quickly and tore off down the road.
Rhianna dressed casually for her lunch date with Caleb. She didn't think he'd be taking her anywhere too fancy as they were going property viewing afterwards. She pulled on a pair of comfy jeans and a little summer top in deep purple. She picked up a button down sweater just in case the afternoon turned cooler and hurried downstairs to wait for Caleb.
He arrived five minutes later in a brand new flashy Porsche which looked exactly like his old one. She smiled when he pulled up and quickly opened the door before he could get out and come around to her as was his usual habit.
"Hi," she smiled breathily as her lavender eyes swept over his beautiful face, taking in the slight tightening of his mouth.
"I would have come up for you," Caleb said a tad more sharply than he meant to. He bit the inside of his mouth in annoyance but she just smiled at him.
"I know you would have but this is the twenty first century, Caleb. Us delicate little women have had the vote and independence for a very long time now. We don't need men to open car doors and escort us down the stairs anymore."
Her easy smile and teasing tone wiped the slight frown from his face as he leaned towards her and inhaled her sweet scent before he brushed her lips gently with his. "But I like doing those things for you, Annie," he breathed against her mouth. "Call me old fashioned but I like the woman I'm with to be treasured and treated with respect when I'm with her."