Page 22 of Her Three Wolves

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I hung my head as I walked towards him and he sauntered towards me. Nobody else was paying us any attention and we spoke in low voices.

“You’re looking better,” I said, glancing towards his chest where the wound was.

“I told you I heal fast,” he said, and then added, “Logan was going to come, but this was my mistake to clean up.”

“How flattering.”

“Jamie is quite upset.”

I hung my head in shame and folded my arms across my chest. “I didn’t meant to hurt him, but you know I had to try and escape. You took me against my will and then you told all that stuff. It’s heavy, you know? And I don’t know if I can give my life to that.”

“I know, but I thought you were going to at least stay and think about it.”

“I did, and I decided I wanted to come back here.”

“To this place, the place you think of as your home. You know, when I was sitting here observing you I also observed everyone else and I came to the conclusion that our clan made the right decision in staying away from the city. We might have been a small community without any great technological gadgets, but at least we weren’t sad. When I looked at the people in that bar, including you, all I saw was sadness. It was as though you had all lost something precious and you were all wallowing in your self-pity.”

“I’ve started to see the same thing myself,” I said.

“Then perhaps you’ve come to change your mind about our offer?”

I shook my head. “Look, I know you’ve suffered a lot, but there’s not much I can do about it. You’ve made a mistake if you truly think I’m the one you’re looking for. I want to be a good person. I want to have a life for myself, but I can’t be a mother. I haven’t had the training for it, I haven’t for the skills, and I don’t think I’d make a very good one. It’s not like I had good examples to learn from.”

“So what are you going to do, stay in this place of sadness and continue to wallow in your misery? Lament your past and keep hoping that each day will bring some new hope with it, even though you know it won’t, and eventually in a few years you’ll be sitting at that bar and you’ll look at a girl coming in and you’ll remember what it was like to be that young. You’ll look at her and you’ll wonder where the years went, and how you got so old. Then you’ll stare into your drink and you’ll take another gulp to try and numb the ache in the pit of your soul.”

I shifted uncomfortably on my feet. He was using the same trick I usually used on other people, and now I realized why they often reacted negatively to me. He had peeked beyond the veil of my defenses and somehow knew me better than I knew myself, saying things that I dared not admit to anyone else. It must have been his wolfish senses that did it, but it didn’t make it any easier to handle.

“Actually I was going to leave this place behind. You’re right; it is sad and depressing and I don’t want to end up here like all the other people. I don’t want to become an old woman here. There has to be a good life for me elsewhere in this world, and I’m going to find it. I’m going to go to a new city where nobody knows me and I can make a new star

t for myself. I don’t have to be held back by my past. I can just be whoever I want to be.”

Jackson studied me for a moment. He didn’t seem convinced by what I was saying. “And you’ll end up in a similar bar to this, doing the same things over and over again, but just in a new city. I know how hard habits can be to break Millie, and I think we both know that you’ve been looking for a way out for a long time, but you’ve always been too afraid to take it. Nobody here missed you, did they?” My silence spoke volumes. “I thought not. Sometimes we’re given the harshest lessons when we step away from our lives for a while. When we return we often find things aren’t as we left them. I’ve learned that too. Mille, I’m sorry for what I did to you. I was desperate and scared. I knew that Ishmael was hot on our trail and I thought we were in a race against time, but even so that doesn’t excuse my actions. I had a long talk with Logan and he showed me the error of my ways. I was so convinced that if I didn’t act as quickly as possible our clan would unfortunately descend into nothingness, forced to disappear into the mists of time.

Humans have always been afraid of werewolves because they see us a threat, and one of the reasons is because werewolves have had something of a superiority complex. Through the years we have known that we inhibit the best qualities of humanity and of an alpha predator, thus we see ourselves as being above humanity. I have always thought myself better than that, and wise enough to acknowledge that we are merely different rather than superior, but in this I have failed. I saw our needs as wolves to supersede your own as a human, and for that I apologize, and I hope that you can forgive me. But know this, I still believe this opportunity is one that you should not reject lightly. To be the mother of a new breed of wolves is a prestigious position. You shall be revered among our kind, your name passed down and woven into the tapestry of our history. You shall be known as the savior of our clan, and you could help shape the next generation of wolves. Are you really willing to turn your back on that when the only alternative is…” his voice trailed off as he gestured to the Rainbow Bar. I followed his gaze, and then my head hung down. I knew that he spoke the truth. No matter where I went I’d always fall into the same path, would always fail to make any strides, and here he was, offering me another path. It was an amazing path, wondrous, unbelievable, but it was also fraught with danger and fear.

“That’s just the thing. I don’t know if you’ve really seen me for who I am. Are you truly sure that I am the woman you want raising this new breed? Even if I do take the opportunity you’re offering I cannot guarantee that it will lead to the conclusion you seem to take for granted. I’m not a family person. I never have been. You have lived in a clan all your life, with two brothers who would lay down their lives for you. I have been unwanted from the very beginning, forced to fight for every inch of my life, how can I be a part of a family? I don’t even know myself, let alone know how to raise children.”

“That makes you the perfect person to be the mother of the new generation. You come to us with no preconceptions, with no notion of how wolves should be raised. You will be learning by your instinct, and that is what we wolves pride ourselves on. The fact that you have no experience in raising children is not something that bothers us. The reason I have chosen you is because you are tenacious and because I believe you would do everything you could to protect your own family, to make up for the lack of support your own parents gave to you.”

“But how could you know that before we’d even spoken?”

“Like you, I am a good judge of character. There is a certain type of person that is attracted to these places, and the more I have gotten to know you the more I have been able to piece together the journey of your life. But I do not believe you are as much of a lost cause as you seem to think. You do not let yourself wallow in this place day after day. When someone you knew needed help you came to help them, and you did everything you could to escape. You came back here, and even now you’re determined to fight. Why would I not want my children to have those qualities? In time I would hope that we can reach other woman, and they will all want to turn to the matriarch for guidance, and that would be you. We can offer people just like you a new purpose, but there always has to be one who begins.”

“And you think that’s me?”

“Am I wrong?”

I searched my heart and my soul, wondering if I had been wrong this whole time. Was I really capable of being the woman Jackson seemed to think I was?

“Let me ask you a question Millie, if you could do anything with your life, what would it be? What do you dream about when you think of the future and you actually allow yourself to dream without feeling fear, without being encumbered by all that has happened in your life? Do you see yourself alone, sitting in a dingy bar somewhere regretting all your choices, or do you see yourself somewhere else? Perhaps with a family, surrounded by people who actually care about?”

“I…” I didn’t want to say it in front of him, but I figured my hesitation told him everything he needed to know. It was as though he had a window into my mind and I found it incredibly disconcerting. Deep down I did think I could have the life I wanted, and I wished for it to happen, to be with someone else, to have someone to support and to feel as though I was connected to the world through another person. I wanted to spread my roots like a tree and feel the network of life, but every time I thought about it there was something in my mind that made me wince, that told me I was being a fool, that stopped me from ever trying.

“You know Millie, you can want that all you like, but it’s not going to happen automatically. At some point if you want that to happen you’re going to have to take a leap of faith and take an opportunity when it’s given to you. Life doesn’t flow like a river, if you want to get anywhere you have to strike out on your own and take things into your own hands. I’m offering you such an opportunity now, and I’m not saying it definitely has to happen, but if you want to actually consider it then come back with me and we’ll talk about it properly. Or I can leave and you’ll never see me again. You can stay here or you can go to another city and try your luck there, and I’ll have to find someone else, but it’s up to you.”

I stared at him and then looked back towards the Rainbow Bar. It was as though crossroads appeared above his head. I knew that this was a pivotal decision, perhaps the most pivotal decision in my life. I could go with him and embark on this strange and unique journey, learn more about the history of the werewolves and what raising a new breed of wolves would actually entail, or I could continue on my current path and try my luck elsewhere, hope to find a good man in a lost city somewhere, one who would take pity on me, but even then I wasn’t sure if I could actually be a part of their life, not without hiding things from them. With the wolves it was different. I could be myself with them, and they seemed to accept me for who I was. They saw something in me that I couldn’t see, but that didn’t necessarily make them wrong. After all, the wolves had proven themselves to have a broader sense of perception than I did.

I had been fighting this since they had suggested it, and at first it was because they had taken me without my consent, strapped me to a table, and almost did unspeakable things to me. But then I learned that they had lost everything and I remembered how I had been when I had first left my family and felt all alone. It would still take me some time to forgive them, but then again I had seduced Jamie under false pretences, played on his innocence, and used him to fashion an opportunity to escape. Was that really much worse than what they had done to me?

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