#Chapter 73 Lila Disappears Odette’s POV
Watching Lila dart gleefully around the playground – positively squealing with happiness – transports me far into the past. I’m no longer a lonely widow far past her prime, I’m a young mother with my whole life ahead of me. My loving, powerful mate stands by my side, and together we look on in amazement as our pup finds his way in the world.
My heart aches to return to those halcyon days, but the talgia and grief aren’t what concern me most. At first I thought I was seeing flashes of Bastien in Selei. pup out of wishful thinking. Now I know better.,
She might be her mother’s miniature in looks, but Lila is my son’s clone in spirit. There is so much of Bastien in Lila I can’t believe he doesn’t see the resemblance. I suppose it’s difficult to recognize one’s own mannerisms and expressions in another person, but I would recognize them anywhere. A mother never for gets, and it’s not Selene’s baby I’m seeing in front of me – it’s mine.
No matter what the DNA tests say, it’s become painfully obvious that Lila is Bastien’s child. The clues go far beyond the pup’s looks or personality, as soon as I acknowledged the possibility, the puzzle pieces started falling in place. Selene was sick as a dog in the weeks before her supposed death, not to mention the mood swings and exhaustion. I should have recognized it at the time – but I was admittedly distracted.
I don’t know Selene’s motivations for lying, or how those results came back negative, but I intend to find out. I won’t repeat Bastien’s mistake and go behind her back. I plan on confronting Selene directly. I’ll find some time for us to be alone together and ask her what’s going on.
I understand the pressures, fears, and stresses of motherhood in a way my son and his Betas never will. I know how strong the instincts are to protect our young – how primal. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions.
If it turns out that Selene is keeping this secret for compelling reasons, I may even be convinced to stay quiet. Knowing my daughter in law, I suspect there must be a good reason for hiding the pup’s identity. However, if I’m wrong, if it turns out she’s lying for the sake of silly insecurities or spite – I won’t hesitate to tell Bastien.
The fact remains that Lila is both a Volana wolf and an Alpha’s pup. I won’t stand for my grandchild being denied the privileges and protections her birthrights demand unless I can be convinced deception is the safer option.
Sighing and shaking my head, I continue to follow the movements of Lila’s tiny body with my eyes. She’ s wearing a bright red sundress, though the garment is little more than a blur the way she’s zooming around the park.
Movement flashes in my periphery, and a familiar scent fills my nose. I turn to greet Drake’s mother, Di ana. She and I are old friends, bonded through the shared experience of being mated to Alphas and raising their heirs.
I immediately fold her into a hug, “Diana! It’s been too long.”
“I know,” She commiserates. “You’d think Joseph retiring would give us more time to travel but nooo.” She quips, referring to her husband. “All he wants to do is lock himself in his study and read!”
“You could travel without him.” | suggest, knowing it’s a fruitless idea. Joseph may be Diana’s second husband and merely a chosen mate, but he’s still an Alpha: they don’t like to let their wives out of their sight.
“I wish.” She mutters, “I’d love to come stay with you in Elysium for a while.”
“Well you’re welcome any time.” I assure her, reaching out to squeeze her palm.
#Chapter 73 Lila Disappears
Diana grins and returns the squeeze. “Thank you.” She glances around at the playground, catching sight of Lila. “I take it you’re on babysitting duty?”
I follow her gaze, curiosity welling inside my chest. Lila does not seem to be aware that Diana has ar rived, or if she is, she doesn’t care. Similarly, Diana does not seem overly interested in the pup – odd behav ior, considering she is supposed to be her Grandmother. ‘Tell me,” I ask, “Do you see Drake in her?”
Diana blinks, understanding flashing across her sharp features quickly. “No,” She answers honestly. “And you?”
“She reminds me so much of Bastien … It’s uncanny.” I share.
Diana nods pensively, “We’ve been friends for a very long time, Odette.” She broaches gently, “longer than our pups understand. And our friendship means more to me than whatever games they’re playing.” She continues.
“Drake has claimed Lila as his – publically. I can’t pretend I know what’s going on with him and Selene, I can’t pretend I understand all the stakes… but I know this,” Diana confides, “Selene gave birth six months after arriving in Asphodel.”
“And the baby?” I press.
“Full term.” Diana confirms, “She was small – but not premature.”
I nod, this new information providing yet another clue to the larger picture. “Thank you for telling me.”
“Of course.” She sighs, “Though I admit, I wouldn’t mind if she were Drakes. She’s such a pretty little thing – and it’s long past time that boy is mated.”
I chuckle, ‘You know how it is with Alphas. Everything in their own time.”
“Just so.” She grins.
I-search the playground for the little red ball of energy, awash with fresh certainty that she is my blood. I scan the slides and swings, the sand boxes and climbing contraptions, but I do not find her. My brow fur rows, where did she go?
I step forward, an eerie sense of unease raising my hackles. I scan the playground again and again, searching every corner and crevice for signs of Lila. When I come up empty I scent the air, alarm jolting through my system when I find only slight traces of the toddler.
I reach out for Diana, steadying myself on her arm. “Diana.”
“What’s wrong?” She questions sharply, reading my panic.
“Do you see Lila? Do you smell her?” I ask hoarsely.
My friend’s expression slowly transforms: from placation, to puzzlement, to concern. “No.” She breathes anxiously. “Odette… I think…”
I don’t need her to finish the sentence. “She’s gone.”
Selene is tempting me to no end.
Ever since I denied her this morning, she’s been torturing me, trying to provoke me into mating her while simultaneously punishing me.
She started by donning the most scandalous lingerie she could find and parading around her rooms pretending to deliberate what to wear for the day. After sorting through her wardrobe and dropping a suspi cious number of items on the floor throughout the process, all of which she very slowly and deliberately
#Chapter 73 Lila Disappears
bent over to retrieve, wagging her round bottom in the air all the while – she finally settled on a dress that necessitated going braless.
After stripping off the silky garment and sliding the dress over her head, she made sure to strut past me at a pace that set her pert b*****s to bouncing, before donning heels that made her slender legs look a mile long.
None of it was necessary, the scent of her arousal and irresistible pull of her wolf was enticement enough. If I had my way we never would have left the bedroom, but we are not young wolves without re sponsibilities. Selene is a mother, and I am an Alpha – we cannot let our l**t control us.
I suppose it’s easier for me, I’ve experienced many ruts in my life, but this is Selene’s first heat. For all intents and purposes, she’s like an untried virgin, overwhelmed by the powerful sensations taking over her body.
It doesn’t bother me to be responsible for both of us, to take control when she cannot – but she doesn’ t have to make it so d**n difficult.
After our breakfast with Lila, Selene went to talk with Drake while I met with my Betas and called home to the council. I’ve already been away from Elysium too long and my work is piling up – but I won’t leave without Selene.
We got through lunch and a few strategy sessions about the bounty without further incident, trusting my mother to babysit Lila.
Now we’re finally back in Selene’s rooms, and we have about a half hour before Mom and Lila return from the park. I don’t plan on wasting a single moment. I’ve been planning out my revenge for Selens’s an tics all morning, and while half an hour isn’t nearly enough time to accomplish everything I hope, it’s cer tainly a start.
Selene is currently eyeing me like the naughty little mate she is, with hunger, anticipation and guilt. She knows she’s been bad, and she’s so sweet I could gobble her up in one bite.
I start walking towards her across the suite, Axel rising close to the surface as the scent of her arousal fills my senses. I’ve been waiting for this all day, and I can’t wait to claim Selene again.
Just then, my mother, Diana Cavanaugh and Donavon burst into the room unannounced. Mom looks white as a sheet, tears shining in her eyes. It takes me all of one second to realize Lila isn’t with them, and the pit falls out of my stomach.
I know what she’s going to say before the words leave her mouth, but I pray I’m wrong.
“Lila’s been taken.”