Bound to My Mate Ch. 07byDoctorWolf©
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Generally, life was good. I loved living in the den and there weren't anymore death threats. Joel relaxed the slightest and my pool of friends got a little larger. I met Jasmine who was newly pregnant and Sophia. Both women were Betas and started going to the gym to train with me.
Jasmine was never part of the action, due to her condition, but she loved to scream instructions at me from the sidelines. As though fighting Shawna wasn't difficult enough, I now had my own cheerleader. My guards had lightened up some and laughed at the show we put on.
When all the noise stopped I knew Joel was close. Nobody messed around when the boss was near. That was usually the only warning I got that he was watching me. I tried to pay attention, but was frequently distracted by Shawna.
"You keep dropping your guard on your left side, love," he whispered into my ear one day causing me to jump into Shawna's arms. I hadn't heard him behind me and hadn't realized the gym had gone silent.
"Could you at least give me a hint when you're sneaking up?" I asked grabbing my chest and panting.
"That was a quite a scare with the big bad wolf right behind you. Could I make it up to you by taking you to lunch at The Club?" he asked.
I was thrilled. I hadn't left the den in forever. Jumping up and down like a ten year old, I hugged him before racing out of the gym.
"Have to change!" I called back expecting him to be back where I left him.
His face was just over my right shoulder and I nearly tripped on my own feet. He caught me and pushed me up against a wall in the hall leading out of the gym. My heart crashed into my chest a second time as I looked up into his feral gaze.
"Seriously," I managed to choke out before his lips crushed mine.
"Never, ever run from a wolf," he growled out. "I love the chase and I adore catching you."
His lips never left mine and his hands were everywhere. Except for the part about being in a hallway where his entire pack could walk by, it reminded me of Luna Ferus. Unfortunately this time I hadn't eaten half a steak and was ravenously hungry. My stomach growled menacingly and he laughed against my throat.
"Perhaps we'll have to see what happens when you run from me after you've eaten," he laughed pulling me toward our suites.
Getting out of the den was wonderful. Of course, thanks to my recent death threats we didn't go alone. Joel had several of his Betas follow along behind us in a different vehicle. He drove and I rode beside him.
"Tell me about your family," I said to him as we sped through the forest.
"It is big and quite diverse, but overall very loyal," he laughed reaching over and squeezing my hand.
"Tell me about your mother and your father," I amended. I forgot family to Joel was every member of his pack. He knew them all by name and at a least a little something about everyone.
"My father was a good wolf. He took care of the family. The coup that Linda and her friends tried destroyed him. My mother, his mate, was one of the few the poison had a chance to affect," he said.
"Linda killed your mother?" I whispered shocked. Joel had never told me that.
"The oil elixir she mixed in the soap was unknown to us then. Linda and her friends told my mother it was a new scent, one that would make her mate wild. My mother loved my father and wanted to surprise him. My father found my mother dead in their bed surrounded by rose petals, she had planned a special night for him..." Joel's voice faded off.
"I'm so sorry," I said stroking his hand.
"It's been a long time since I've talked about it. No one in the pack talks about it anymore. I never realized what he had lost until I met you," Joel said. His voice was thick with emotion.
I wasn't sure what to say to him. I just held his hand and watched the forest fade into the outskirts of town. Joel must not have wanted to dwell.
"We could do something fun after lunch. What do you want to do?" he asked me trying to sound brighter.
"You'll laugh at me," I told him blushing.
"I swear not to laugh," he said holding back a smile. I figured he already seen what was in my head.
"Liking Mini-golf is not a crime," I said crossing my arms. "It just so happens to be the only form of golf I am any good at. We don't have to do it. I'm not sure what your Betas would do while we play."
"I imagine they will find something," he said.
So that's what we did. We went to lunch at The Club and then went to the putt-putt place in the touristy part of town. Instead of leaving Joel's Betas were instructed to play as a foursome and follow us.
I quickly learned were wolves don't typically play Mini-golf. The first hole, it took Joel a good eight strokes to get the ball into the cup. He swung much too hard. I tried not to laugh, his pack was watching. I was attempting to be dignified about it. It would probably be disrespectful to find humor in his lack of ability.
"From what I have heard about golf," he said batting the little orange ball into the bushes, "this is funny. You are most certainly allowed to laugh at me. I plan on laughing at my Betas when they try."
His next hit landed him in the fake sand trap and I couldn't help it. His frustration was amusing. I only giggled at first and tried to help him. I gave him what I considered good tips. The harder he tried though the more likely the ball landed in entirely the wrong spot. My advice turned out to be less than helpful most of the time.
"Don't ever go into teaching sports," he told me as we moved to the last green.
I laughed out loud and so did he; I really couldn't help it. I had had a wonderful time.
Unfortunately, we weren't always that agreeable with one another. Joel and I had a huge stumbling block in our relationship, mainly my refusal to change into a were wolf. He pestered me about it a little every day. It came to head one morning after Shawna had finished with me in the gym.
I was supposed to be headed upstairs, but I had to use the restroom badly. Anthony and a guy named Isaac were my assigned guards for the day. They delivered me to a public bathroom on the first floor. As I walked inside the restroom Anthony followed me in.
"Oh no, buddy," I warned him, "you can just wait outside. I'll be done in a minute."
"The Alpha told us not to leave you alone for a moment," he told me furrowing his brow.
"Wait outside and let me pee," I shot back at him looking under the four stalls that were present. "Nobody here but me and I am demanding you leave me by myself. I won't be alone, you'll be right outside; just don't let anyone in."
Anthony backed reluctantly out and I went into one of the little stalls. This was ridiculous, I was thinking to myself. What exactly did Anthony think was going to happen? Was a ninja going to pop out the air grate and attack me? I was in the den for heaven's sake.
A thud got my attention and then the bathroom door banged open. I was just pulling up my pants as Joel nearly jerked the stall off it's hinges. His eyes were glowing bright gold as he looked down at me.
"What are you doing?" I asked him very alarmed.
"Why did you come in here alone?" he asked me ignoring my question. "I sensed your thoughts about how glad you were your guard had not come with you. They are with you to protect you. You are not a wolf, you cannot protect yourself from wolves. You cannot be alone unless you are in our suites."
He had that stern Alpha face on. The one that clearly said not to argue with him. His demands were unreasonable though.
"I am a human. I like to go to the bathroom alone. There isn't anyone else in here. I fail to see the emergency that dragged you out of whatever business you were attending to," I replied to him, my voice getting louder by the sentence.
"Yes, you are human and therefore vulnerable. If you were a wolf I would not fear for you like this. My pack members have attacked you twice and nearly succeeded twice in killing you. If you won't allow me to change you, then you will accept every protection I provide for you," he said getting a little louder himself.
The argument, in my mind, was no longer about me going somewhere alone. It was back to our standing disagreement about me becoming a were wolf.
"You have no idea what you are asking me to do," I yelled at him totally forgetting where we were. "How would you feel if I asked you to become a human? Just give up everything you've ever known and become something else. It is a terrifying proposition."
"I have asked you to give up almost nothing," he growled back at me. "I give you all that you need and more than you know you need. There is nothing in this change for you to fear. I will take care of you, just like I have since I met you."
"Nothing to fear?!" I screamed at him. "You turn into a giant beast. How am I not supposed to be afraid of that? You look like you're ready to rip me and this room to pieces right now. Why would I choose to become like that?" I asked. His clothes had started to look way too tight and his teeth were showing a little.
Dropping his head he paced away from me and let the door swing closed. It hung funny because he had torn the hinges. I stood quietly for a moment and composed myself. I realized our shouting had probably been heard by anyone passing near the gym. This conversation should have been private.
I stepped out of the bathroom stall and Joel was leaning on a far wall breathing deeply. His shirt looked loose again. Approaching him slowly I put on a hand on his back. He turned to face me and he looked tormented.
"I have to go back to work," he said flatly. "Please stay with Anthony and Isaac, they will take you to our suites. I will see you tonight."
That said, he left the bathroom and didn't return. I splashed my face with water to cool it down and followed him out.
Outside the bathroom was a herd of pack members watching the door. My guards both had huge bruises across their faces. From the angry looks the pack gave me as I headed upstairs, they had definitely heard our conversation. It was embarrassing, but what I had said was the truth.
I stayed in Joel's suites for the rest of the day. Katrina came up and practiced unlocking deadbolts with me. Even she was subdued, which was a disheartening change.
"So I guess everyone heard us in the bathroom today," I finally said as I played absently with a lock in front of me.
"Yes, now everyone knows why there isn't a changing ceremony planned," she said.
"You understand, don't you?" I pleaded with her. "You didn't want to change either. It wasn't like you had a choice in the matter."
"It has been almost forty years since I felt like that," she admitted. "I never had much of a family, not like I have now. I can't imagine not being what I am and being part of this," she said motioning around us and continuing.
"The pack is offended. They feel you are intentionally hurting the Alpha. They love him. He provides for us and keeps us safe. He has kept you safe. They don't understand why he is drawn to you, some think it may be a mistake," she said gathering up her things.
I sat in silence as she left. For my part, I actually understood how the pack felt, they were protecting their family member. The situation was more complicated than me wanting to hurt Joel. I hadn't been raised to believe in were wolves, becoming one was never even considered. The turn of events over the last several weeks had turned my world on its ear.
When Joel came back into our suites later that night I was sitting and staring into the fire. He sat across from me and laid his head in his hands. It took a while for him to say anything and when he did it was quietly.
"Tell me what you are afraid of," he said.
"I don't want to lose myself," I told him.
"You will still be you. Every human I've ever known to be changed was like themselves after the transition. You won't lose your likes or dislikes. However, you will find your more animal half. Intense emotions can trigger the more animal half to show itself as a form of protection. The longer you are a wolf the better control you should have. In certain instances, even the best of us have lapses," he said watching me.
"Your family doesn't think I am good enough for you," I said bluntly.
"My family doesn't make this decision for me and, for my part, I see your point. I don't know what I'd do if you told me to change myself that much for you. It would be like losing part of myself. The wolf is not a bad thing; it is not evil," he said sitting back a little.
"Your wolf is aggressive," I told him. "The creatures that took me to Lucas' cabin were horrible. Lucas could have killed me when I just said your name to him. The idea of being like that terrifies me."
"You will probably find you enjoy aggression more after the change, that is true. You will be stronger as a wolf, more able to fend for yourself, but I understand your fear. I won't force you to change and the pack has no say in this matter," Joel said.
I walked across the room and curled into his lap. Joel just held me while stroking my back. I appreciated his understanding my fear. It meant a lot to me. As we sat there watching the fire I thought about how important Joel had become to me. The silence was comforting for now and that seemed like a conversation for another day.
The beginning of the next week felt like the last part of the week before, but soon it was Wednesday and I got to go to work. I drifted into my enormous closet to pick out something business casual that covered Joel's bite mark and Shawna's bruises. There was no way to explain this new life to my work friends.
I touched Joel's bite mark and wondered about it. The rest of his bites healed within a few hours, only this one stayed.
"It's my mark," he called from the bathroom. "It will never fade, that was the intention I had when I made it. I heal my other love bites after I make them."
I shrugged at this new information and started to worry how my coworkers would think of me jumping ship. I was sure it was a strain on them rescheduling patients. I was little nervous about my reception.
"You will give yourself wrinkles worrying so much," said Joel as he emerged like a statue of a Greek god wrapped in a towel.
"I hired someone to fill in for you, so no love lost between you and the witch's kin," he said flinching slightly over the last of the statement.
Despite business dealings with certain witches he was a little uneasy about them as a whole. Some would obviously make or sell anything, despite knowing what their magic could do. The pack's prior problems and more recent reminder of it left him distrustful of witches and their motives. "Money is all that matters to some of them," he had stated simply when we discussed it.
"Do I get to drive myself?" I asked, but already knowing the answer.
"No," he said patting my bottom in a mock spanking, "I've heard enough about your driving. Will does all the driving to and from your job. In the clinic you stay with Will, Robert, and Seth."
Surprisingly, I was a little upset not to be hitting the gym with Shawna. I had gotten good at self defense and she was teaching me more complicated offensive moves. Katrina said my ability to fight was proof of the wolf's ability to pick a mate.
"As Madam Alpha you should be able to protect the weaker wolves," she said one afternoon as I struggled with a padlock. "Hopefully we won't always be pulling you out of near death situations!" I had rolled my eyes at the time. Before I met the wolves I'd never had any near death experiences.
I was jerked back to the present as the Alpha boomed orders at me as we walked down the stairs.
"Will goes in every room with you and should never leave your side. If he has other ideas about his job I want to hear about it. You will not go anywhere with anyone else unaccompanied. Do not drink or eat anything you didn't bring from the den," Joel commanded.
"Right, right," I muttered patting my pockets for my cell phone.
Joel just continued the speech I'd already heard three times already. "Pay attention to your surroundings. If something seems wrong it probably is. Don't hesitate to call in the cavalry. They won't be angry with you for false alarms, but I will be furious if something gets missed," he said.
I nodded mutely, but was still trying to remember where I had put my phone. Joel studied me for a minute; I assumed trying to think of more commands.
"Just please take care of yourself," he sighed handing the little flip phone to me.
"Don't worry," I said to him rising up on tiptoe to kiss his lips, "I'll be careful. I'd prefer not to end up trussed and beaten again."
I saw my daily guard all standing around the door waiting for me. Four large men that would wait all day outside and three to work inside with me. Joel drew my attention back to him.
"One last thing," he said sternly as we walked out to he waiting cars, "I know you are working with witch's kin and they are your friends, but the pack comes first.
"Pack secrets are closely guarded to ensure our safety. The witches know some of our traditions, but what they don't know isn't their business. Even if they seem to know something, don't ever admit to anything with them. I would prefer they know as little about what is really going on as possible. And, of course, I love you."
"I understand, you too," I answered him as I crawled into the SUV with Will and shut the door.
Joel looked a little surprised as we drove away. I didn't really realize what he had said until we pulled out. 'You, too' isn't really the answer you should give someone the first time they tell you they love you. I wished I'd answered him differently.
I could admit it to myself; I loved him, too. Saying it to his face would be a big step for me. I'd never told anyone outside my family I loved them. He'd been brave enough to do it and I'd blown him off. That made me feel awful.
We drove in silence for a while as the forest flew by. Apparently, the wolves better reflexes gave them the right to drive faster than I usually did. My little convoy was zipping around the turns in the forest at speeds even I'd be a little hesitant about.
'My convoy,' I thought, 'for me to even go to work it took a convoy.'
I was soon wondering if I hadn't missed the boat on demanding this much special treatment. It was evident I was being treated like royalty even for royalty. I had seven wolves at my beck and call all day; their only goal was to protect me.
It was disheartening. I worked with Shawna every day. For a human female she told me I was very good at fighting. However, I was still puny as kitten compared to the weakest wolf.
The pack recognized my weakness for what it was and I heard them talk about it, mainly in the gym. They wondered if I was too frail to survive the transformation. Some of them assumed that was Joel's reasoning, but they had never known a human to be that delicate. Overall, I was weak and whiny; the pack wasn't sure what their leader saw in me.
I stared mournfully out the window and felt sorry for myself. I couldn't even get the courage to tell Joel I loved him. Maybe they were right, maybe I wasn't good enough for him.
"So," Will broke me out of my depressing reverie, "what are you going to tell people about where you've been?" he asked.
"Family emergency maybe," I mused.
"I thought most of your family was dead," he said bluntly. "Those types of people don't have emergencies."
"My father's still alive, drunk in his trailer most of the time, but alive down in South Florida. I could tell them something happened with him," I said.
"What are you going to tell them about the bruises?" he asked pointing to several fading marks on my right wrist and knuckles.