— Eveline —
I was so tired that I went to bed right after my meeting with Kaden. I had half a mind to go back to the event to see Darren, but when I saw that it was nearly two in the morning, I deflated. The place was probably emptying.
Actually, I’m pretty sure there was a lot less people in the room when I returned from being outside with Darren, than when I went out to meet him.
I didn’t know when they closed things up. Two? Three? Or kept things open until the last one left.
But jet lag was hitting so hard right now.
We were leaving tomorrow, so I had still time to see Darren.
I looked at my phone.
I was so out of it that I didn’t even think of getting his number, so I couldn’t text him.
I thought I’d never be able to fall asleep after this evening, put it seemed my body decided to shut down, and let me worry about this in the morning.
* * * * *
I heard knocking.
I got up.
“Pack your things, we’re leaving in two hours,” said Mads when I opened the door to my room.
“What?” My brain suddenly un-congealed. “Already? So early?”
“It’s noon, Eva.”
“Holy crap.” I rushed out, passed Mads, then twirled in confusion in the corridor. “Where’s Kaden?”
He pointed at the door more or less in front of mine.
“Thanks,” I said as I twirled one last time, aiming at the door, and rush in. Once I opened, I realized I’d forgotten to knock, and was still in my PJs.
Kaden was sitting at a desk working on his laptop. His bag was on the bed, closed and probably ready to leave.
“Do we really have to leave already?” I blurted.
“Yeah,” he said. He knew why I asked and I denoted a ‘sorry’ somewhere in his expression.
“Could we just extend a bit? If it inconveniences Alpha Thomas, there’s surely a hotel nearby.”
“I got a meeting tomorrow—”
“But I don’t,” I cut in.
“—But you leave for France in five days.”
“But I could leave from here?”
“There’s preparations required, Eva.”
“You don’t understand. I found my mate. I can’t just leave yet. You don’t get what this mean. You don’t know how this feels. We can’t separate just like that. You don’t know how painful that can be,” I raged at him, in panic.
“You think that I don’t know?” He never raised his voice, but I could hear the fury in it, and I regretted my outburst instantly.
“That’s not what I meant,” I said, my speech now muted.
I know he doesn’t look it, but he’s always been more than patient with my sisters and I. Never had he lost it unless there was a really good reason. And right now, I’d just attack his greatest pain.
“That’s exactly what you meant,” he cut in.
“It’s just that I’ve barely just met him. It’s like you’re keeping us apart.” My eyes widened. “Are you trying to make us reject?”
“Is that what you think of me?” His temper rose and so his voice. “Do you really think I’d force you to reject a mate? That I’d willingly hurt you. That I’ve no idea what living apart from a mate feels like?”
“I meant…” I mumbled.
“We are on a schedule, Eva. That’s what it means to work. It doesn’t mean to never see each other again. Nothing is stopping you from calling him, or to plan for a meeting at a more appropriate time. Which can give you time to know each other. This is the 21st century, people have phones and emails. After France, you don’t have anything abroad for weeks, I could replace you then.” He closed his laptop and rose from his chair. “I just came from a freaking battlefield, sent my men home without follow ups about their well-being, to pick you up and do business most of the night and morning. I’m exhausted, and I’m reading email about hostile takeovers from allies asking for help, and the first thing you think of is that I want to hurt you. Me of all people would use a mate to hurt my freaking sister. Really?”
I never understood the depth of my fuckup until he finished talking.
“I’m sorry,” I said meekly. “I didn’t think.”
“Clearly you didn’t,” he said taking another file from his bag to put on his desk. “But I thought I was talking to an adult, Eva. Someone I trust making good decisions, representing the pack. If you can control your emotions so little, I wonder if I was not too hasty in giving you this position.”
“Please,” I pleaded. “I’m sorry. I’m jet lagged. I just woke up confused, and finding my mate really scrambled with my brain.”
He sighed and sat back, putting his elbows on the desk and running his palms over his face all the way through his hair.
“I should have never said what I said. I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry,” I said.
He sighed again and let his head fall back.
“I can ask Mads to pack your stuff, if you don’t mind him doing so, so you can take that time to go to see him, and work out what’s your next step.”
“Thank you!” I jumped.
“Two hours, top,” he said as I rushed out.
“And put on some clothes!” he said after me.
“Hiiick!” I squeaked, realizing I was running in the corridor of a stranger’s house in very thin cami and shorts, no bra.
I rushed to dress up, brush my hair and make myself look decent.
How could I get ready, and find him, and have a conversation in just two hours? Why did I wake up so late? Why didn’t I put on an alarm clock?
I just hate myself right now.
I found someone to orient me, and I was reaching the dining room in less than an hour. I should have taken a shower, but I couldn’t afford the time it would have taken.
I’ve never dressed up in more of a panic. The content of my bag was all over the place and I left all this for Mads to clean up.
My make up and hair was decent, but I could have done a much better job if I had a bit more time.
I tried not to run there. Half for the image, and half to make sure I would not be sweating all over when I’d arrive.
I had no idea what to say, how to begin. Or even how to tell him that I was just about to leave for another continent.
What if he freaked out?
What if he decided he couldn’t do long distance?
What if he told me to stay here?
That’s what most girls do. They leave their pack (if they’re not from the same pack) to join their mate’s.
I couldn’t imagine myself living elsewhere and for a moment, it crushed my heart.
I loved home. I loved my pack and my family.
In less than a month I could be kissing it goodbye.
Could I even do that?
For someone that I didn’t know.
Reality was dawning on me, and I was freaking out.
I’d been afraid for some stupid reason that Kaden could push for a rejection, but the most probable culprits for such a decision were Darren and I.
— Darren —
Michael didn’t mention my mate in the morning, and I didn’t bring it up either.
Actually, it could be a good thing to keep things on the down low until anything was settled. Just in case.
Him and Dad spent all morning dealing with guests and doing lots of PR.
I didn’t see Eva all morning.
I asked an Omega about her, and was told her and her brother were still there and that he has had a meeting or two with some of our guess.
I know that Dad and Michael tried to have a talk with him but was told he was busy, and would see if he could make time before he left. Which is, I don’t know when.
Maybe Eva talked to her brother and they came to the conclusion the two of us would not work out. Either way, I’d like to know before they left.
I nearly knocked on her door a few times, but I’d turn around before I even reached her corridor.
I didn’t want to come as overbearing, or pushy. It was not a good way to start things. But I’m pretty sure I’d heard Michael mention this morning that they were leaving today. So, I’ve made up my mind to go and see her this afternoon after lunch.
I was lost in my thoughts and not listening to my brothers’ nagging at one another, when I smelled her.
I tensed, lowered my fork and raised my head focusing on the patio door.
I saw Michael notice my reaction in my peripheral. I thought he was about to ask questions, when she appeared.
The others slowly notice her there too.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I don’t want to both—”
I was already up and walked out with her on my heels
“Hi,” I said as I turned to her once we were out of earshot. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling.
Luckily, it seemed she was having a pretty similar reaction.
“I’m sorry, I was so jet-lagged that I slept all through morning.”
“Not really, we’re leaving in little over an hour.”
“Oh,” was all I managed to say.
She twisted her fingers upon one another.
“First thing first.” I picked my phone and opened her contact. “Could I have your phone number please?” I asked giving her my phone.
She beamed the sunniest smile and took my phone. She grabbed hers and unlocked it, then gave it to me before typing on mine.
When we switched phones back I saw she added her email and home address too.
This is not hopeless.
Then I notice the address itself.
We’re not on the same continent.
I had a mini freak out.
“So … what then?” she asked.
My conversation from yesterday with her brother came back to mind.
“I want to know you. If you’re willing? But we live apart. The commute is pretty hardcore. Long distance dating is hard, and mates only make it harder. I’m not against moving. But it’s a pretty intense commitment so early on. I don’t have a title to offer you. I live well, but it’s my father’s wealth, that my brother will inherit. I don’t have much to my name. I’m still in school. I don’t know what you’re expecting or if you’re expecting anything at all. What about you?”
She seemed to hesitate for a little.
“I don’t think I’m ready to move.” The word seamed to cost her.
I nodded. “Then it could be me. But I’m not making that kind of decision if it’s half-assed. I want you to be sure what you want. We’re moving into uncharted territory. I’ve been thinking all morning. About what to expect, about where this could go. What do you expect? What do you want?”
“I don’t know,” she said meekly.
“I get it. It’s a lot, and none of us expected this. You can take your time, we can talk in the meantime—get to know one another. The only thing I’m asking you is if you think that this is too much, or not going in the right direction. Don’t stretch this out unnecessarily, don’t wait until we’ve invested in this, don’t wait until I crossed the ocean. If it’s not working out, then let’s just end it. Let’s not prolong the inevitable, okay? And I can promise you to do the same for you.”
She nodded. She looked torn.
This was not the direction I wanted this to take. But if we have only one hour to sort things out, we don’t have the time to beat around the bushes.
“I don’t know where to start,” she said.
“Talk. To me. To someone else you trust. Nothing will get done without a conversation. Get a new perspective if you must. Take your time, think about the possibilities. What they mean.”
Her head perked up.
“Can I just go for a few minutes?” she asked. “I promised I’ll be back.”
“Sure. I guess.” This is not the reaction I was expecting, but again, I’ve no idea what I expected.
“Okay. Good,” she said in a rush. Then kissed my cheek, turned around and ran off. I felt the same tingle I’ve felt last night when her lips touched me.
“I’ll be back,” she said before leaving.
I just stared back at the place where she’d been for a few seconds, a little confused.
Eventually I decided to just go back in and finish eating lunch.
“What was that about?” asked my mother.
“Just a conversation,” I said.
“That was Eveline Devon, wasn’t it?” asked Michael while studying my expression. My father’s head perked up at the name ‘Devon’.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Is she really your mate?” he asked me.
The table got so silent I could nearly hear them think.
“Yes.” I took a mouthful of chicken.
“Devon as in Kaden Devon?” my father asked.
“Who’s that?” asked Fred.
“You found your mate?!” my mother nearly screamed. She normally barely ever raised her voice.
Everyone turned to her.
“Yes,” I answered.
“And?” she pursued.
“She seems lovely.” I stuffed my mouth again. I kinda hoped I could forgo the whole interrogatory, but for that, I suppose, I would’ve had to not return here to begin with.
“Is she related to Kaden Devon?” my father asked again, more insistent this time.
I chewed my food.
Michael eyed me. He knew exactly what I was doing, which is staling him. “Yes, that’s his sister,” he answered for me.
“Who’s Kaden Devon?” asked Kevin.
“An Alpha,” I replied then stuffed my face again.
“He’s not just an Alpha. He has one of the most powerful pack in the world,” Dad said.
“So a big shot,” Kevin concluded.
“That’s the understatement of the year,” said Michael.
“Maybe you could ask her to set up a meeting,” Dad suggested.
“You can’t be asking him to use her for politics,” Mom said.
I waved my hand at her in approval.
“Besides, they’re leaving soon,” I said.
“How soon?” Dad asked.
“In around an hour.”
He groaned. His plans were going down the drain.
“They don’t live nearby, you know,” Michael said to me.
“How far?” Mom asked.
“Very,” I said.
“What are you gonna do?” she asked.
“I don’t know yet, but I’m gonna have to sort it out.”
“Maybe I could talk to him. See what options are out there,” my dad suggested.
“I already did that,” I said.
“You met him?” he blurted.
“Last night. He probably wanted to know about is little sister’s mate as soon as possible.”
“And?” Michael asked. His eyes sparkling. I’m beginning to believe he’s a closeted fanboy.
“He mostly asked me questions. Warned me about messing up with his sister. Then gave me a contact if I choose to move.”
“Move? Why would you move? She can come to live here with us,” Mom said.
“I don’t have a career, she does. I don’t even have a position here either. I’m probably just gonna do accounting at the office and nothing more. It’s not really worth uprooting her life for.”
“But we could change that. I’m sure your father can find something better for you,” she said.
It’s only now that I realized how the possibility of me moving away would affect my family. Most faces didn’t seem fazed. Mostly weirded out. My family is traditional and so me doing it instead of her is not how they would do it, career and title or not. Au contraire though, for my mother it was emotional. None of us moved away. Most wolf stays with their elders, take care of them, especially the men. But my parents didn’t need all six of us to stay and care for them. That was our reality.
But my mother was not ready.
On the other side of the table though, my father didn’t seem enthusiastic about caving under pressure to give me anything as an incentive to stay or not.
“I’m not gonna bully anyone into giving me something just so I don’t leave. Besides, she told me she’s not ready to leave her home. And I’m not sure we’d be able to do long distance for long. So that leaves me to leave, or us to breaking it up.”
She looked insulted at the mere mention of breaking the bond.
“Of course not. You can’t just do that. But you could talk to her.”
“That’s what I just did.”
“And?” she asked.
“We’ll talk later. I think we both need time to process.”
“What did you tell him about our pack?” my father asked me, steering the conversation back to her brother.
“Did he tell you about his?”
“You’re not very useful here, son.”
Ain’t that the story of my life.
“I don’t know what to tell you, Dad. He wanted to ask me a few questions about me, not the pack, nothing else. I’m his sister’s mate. Nothing else. He didn’t tell me about him or his pack, and I’m pretty sure he assumes his sister could tell me about herself, well herself. We didn’t talk for hours either. It was late. I’m sure he was even more tired than I was. And that’s it,” I told him. “I haven’t known for a full 24 hours. No decision has been made. And maybe, if I’m lucky, I’m gonna know in which direction this is going before she leaves,” I added for my mother.
“Now if you excuse me, I have a mate to go talk to.”
I rose and left the table in the direction of Eva’s room.